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Guide to The World Café Method

When should I use this method? 

The World Café method is particularly useful when you want to be sure to explore a topic from multiple perspectives, to ensure that everyone in a room contributes in a conversation, and/or when you want to encourage participants to make new connections. The method can also be useful for gathering information from grantees and beneficiaries at the community level. 

The Beauty — and the Specificity — of the World Café Method

“The Innovative design of the World Café enables groups – often numbering in the hundreds of people – to participate together in evolving rounds of dialogue… while at the same time remaining part of a single, larger, connected conversation.” 

It’s important to understand that hosting a World Café is not the same thing as facilitating breakout groups.

As you will see in the facilitation guide below, a properly facilitated World Café is about more than just enabling a discussion among a subset of people in a larger group. Some core features of a World Café are:  

  • A feeling of welcoming. “Attention is paid to creating a hospitable space… Café facilitators are true hosts – creating a spirit of welcome that is missing from most of our processes.” 
  • Diversity. “How can we create an accurate picture of the whole if we don’t honor the fact that we each see something different because of who we are and where we sit in the system?”
  • Movement. “In the World Café process, people generally move… As we move, we leave behind our roles, our preconceptions, our certainty… and become bigger.” 

Proper etiquette for a World Café conversation includes: 

  • Speak with your mind… and heart
  • Play, draw, and doodle
  • Focus on what matters
  • … and more!

Continued