World Café

The basic idea behind a World Café is to encourage discussion between people. The discussion should center around questions that are really of relevance for the participants. No trash talk, but relevant, profound discussions in a small circle and with varying groups.

The special feature of the World Café is the mix between intense talks in a small circle of around five people and the variety of a large group of up to 1,000 participants which can be experienced by all participants through several changeovers to other smaller groups. 

The process ends with mutual learning (the harvest) in the entire group.

Hence, the method ensures that people can meet, get to know each other and share information quickly – without any larger fear of contact. Therefore, each World Café is a laboratory for networking and diversity. It enables a group or community to think together.

Network discussions result in something new.

The major triggering elements are the participants, the right questions, the facilitator (moderation of the Café) and the hospitable, welcoming setting.

The selection of the question is of major importance. A question should be selected that has an impact, triggers further questions, has a high relevance for the participants and ties in with ideals.

Depending on the question and the size of the group, a World Café can be carried out for two hours or two days.

All participants are seated at tables with up to five people. The tables have been laid with a paper cloth that can be used to make notes. During the discussion, all people seated at the table are advised to note important matters on the cloth.

One round table discussion runs from 15 to 40 minutes. There are several discussion rounds addressing the same question and additionally addressing questions that are based on the initial question.

The composition of people sitting at the table changes with each new round of talks. Only one person remains seated at the same table; this person has volunteered to be the host for that particular table. The host welcomes the new persons at the table at the beginning of each round of discussion.

The harvest

Towards the end of the World Café, the benefits from the discussions, thoughts and new ideas shall be reaped. The participants per table are asked to shout out loud the major insights for the entire World Café group.

If you want to dedicate more time for the conclusion of the World Café, each table notes the most stunning ideas on cards which are then pinned on a wall that is visible to the entire group. If such a form of visualization is used, the outcomes can be clustered and priorities can be given as well as measures can be derived.

For most of us, the latter method seems to be the method of choice: documenting all results and deriving measures from these results – this is what we have learned again and again.

However, this is not necessary for successful World Cafés.

If we have done everything right, the participants are inspired by the networking discussions in such a way that something has changed inside them – something that they can take back into their day-to-day business and implement without documentation and planning of measures.

Andrea SchmittInnovationstrainerinAm Mittelpfad 24aD 65520 Bad Camberg+49 64 34-905 997+49 175 5196446
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