world cafe methodology

The Principles of a World Cafe

 The World Café method can be modified to meet a variety of needs. Context, numbers, purpose, location can all be factored into each event’s unique invitation, design, and topic choice. 

The following seven principles form the basis of the World Café process: 

1. Set the context Pay attention to the reason for bringing people together, and what you want to achieve. Being clear on the purpose of your meeting enables you to choose  who should be part of the conversation, what themes or questions will be most important and how to collate the views expressed (known as the ‘harvest’) 

2. Create a welcoming space is key. It is very important that participants feel safe and nurtured. When people feel comfortable they do their most creative thinking, speaking  and listening. 

 3. Explore questions that matter Depending on the timeframe and objectives, your Café could explore a single question or use a progressively deeper line of inquiry through several conversational rounds. 

4. Encourage everyone’s contribution It is important to encourage everyone in your meeting to contribute their ideas and perspectives, while allowing those who want to join in by just listening to do so. 

5. Connect different perspectives.  One of the main characteristics of a World Café is the opportunity to move between tables and meet new people, contribute your thinking to different groups, and link your discoveries to other peoples. As participants carry ideas or themes to new tables they exchange perspectives, increasing the possibility for surprising new insights. 6. Listen for patterns and insights.  For the facilitator, listening is the most important factor in determining the success of a Café and enables you to see themes, patterns and insights emerge. Listen to what is not being said along with what is being shared.  

7. Share collective discoveries A conversation held at one table is part of a pattern that connects with the conversations at other tables. 

The last phase of the Café, the ‘harvest’, involves making all of the discussions visible to everyone in a large group conversation


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