World Café is a simple, innovative process that allows groups of people to carry out conversations about questions that matter in a way that taps into the collective intelligence of the group.
The process takes its name from the café style environment in which the conversations take place. This technique is excellent when working with smaller groups of up to 100 who represent a community of interest.
The process involves groups of four or five people gathering around a table and talking about a carefully crafted question that they are all interested in. After the facilitator/host has welcomed the participants, he or she reminds them of the question they have to explore, and gives them 30-45 minutes for discussion. After the allotted time, one person remains at each table and the rest move to other tables. The person who remains at the table shares with the incoming group the ideas and questions that were discussed at that table, and the others share their previous conversations. The new group at each table then continues with their dialogue. The process continues for several rounds.
The whole group is then asked to share significant insights and questions that have emerged. The results of this discussion are posted in front of everyone, and used by the group as a basis for further action. The process activates collective intelligence, creates new knowledge and helps to birth desired futures.
Chapter 25: Internal Cohesion in Society