It draws on 7 design principles to create a simple, effective and flexible format for hosting large group discussions for between 12 to 200 participants.
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What is it?
When Would You Use It?
The 7 Design Principles
Design principle 1 – Set the context
Design principle 2 – Create hospitable space
Design principle 3 – Explore questions that matter
Design principle 4 – Encourage everyone’s contribution
Design principle 5 – Connect diverse perspectives
Design principle 6 – Listen together for patterns & insights
Design principle 7 – Share collective discoveries
World Cafe Etiquette
- 1Setup small café-style tables in a rooms and seat 4 or 5 Participants at each. These are your ‘conversation clusters’.
- 2The Facilitator then explains to the group they will now have 3 rounds of conversation of approximately 20-30 minutes each.
- 3Questions or issues that genuinely matter to your work, life or community are discussed while other groups explore similar questions at nearby tables.
- 4The Facilitator encourages the table members to write, doodle, and draw key ideas on their paper tablecloths or to note key ideas on large index cards or placemats in the center of the group.
- 5After completing the 1st round of conversation, the Facilitator asks each table to agree a ‘table host’ who remains at the table while the others travel to different tables.
- 6The travelers now get up from the table and move to another. They can go to whichever table they prefer carrying with them key ideas, themes and questions from their old table into their new conversations.
- 7The Facilitator asks the Table Hosts to welcome their new guests and briefly share the main ideas, themes and questions from the initial conversation (max 2 mins). Encourage guests to link and connect ideas coming from their previous table conversations – listening carefully and building on each other’s contributions.
- 8At the end of the 2nd round, all of the tables and conversations will be cross-pollinated with insights from previous conversations.
- 9In the 3rd round of conversation, people can return to their home (original) tables to synthesize their discoveries, or they may continue on to new tables, leaving the same or a new host at the table.
- 10An optional step is for the Facilitator to pose a new question that helps deepen the exploration for the 3rd round of conversation.
- 11After your 3rd round of conversation, initiate a period of sharing discoveries and insights in a whole group conversation.
- 12Make sure you have someone flip-chart this plenary conversation so you capture any patterns, knowledge and actions that emerge.