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Café to Go! A Quick Reference Guide for Putting Conversations to Work

This concise 10-page guide to the World Café (2008) covers the basics of the process. It includes brief outlines of each principle, a description of Café Etiquette, an outline of key elements of the World Café conversations, and tips for creating Café ambiance. Download the PDF from the World Café website here.

From the Café Guidelines…World Cafe_To Go

Conducting an exciting Café Conversation is not hard—it’s limited only by your imagination! The Café format is flexible and adapts to many different circumstances. When these guidelines are used in combination, they foster collaborative dialogue, active engagement and constructive possibilities for action.

Clarify the Purpose: Pay attention early to the reason you are bringing people together. Knowing the purpose of your meeting enables you to consider which participants need to be there and what parameters are important to achieve your purpose.

Create a Hospitable Space: Café hosts around the world emphasize the power and importance of creating a hospitable space—one that feels safe and inviting. When people feel comfortable to be themselves, they do their most creative thinking, speaking, and listening. In particular, consider how your invitation and your physical set-up contribute to creating a welcoming atmosphere.

Explore Questions that Matter: Finding and framing questions that matter to those who are participating in your Café is an area where thought and attention can produce profound results. Your Café may only explore a single question, or several questions may be developed to support a logical progression of discovery throughout several rounds of dialogue. In many cases, Café conversations are as much about discovering and exploring powerful questions as they are about finding effective solutions.

Encourage Everyone’s Contribution: As leaders we are increasingly aware of the importance of participation, but most people don’t only want to participate, they want to actively contribute to making a difference. It is important to encourage everyone in your meeting to contribute their ideas and perspectives, while also allowing anyone who wants to participate by simply listening to do so.

Connect Diverse Perspectives: The opportunity to move between tables, meet new people, actively contribute your thinking, and link the essence of your discoveries to ever-widening circles of thought is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Café. As participants carry key ideas or themes to new tables, they exchange perspectives, greatly enriching the possibility for surprising new insights.

Listen for Insights and Share Discoveries: Through practicing shared listening and paying attention to themes, patterns and insights, we begin to sense a connection to the larger whole. After several rounds of conversation, it is helpful to engage in a whole group conversation. This offers the entire group an opportunity to connect the overall themes or questions that are now present.

Café To Go is translated in: Chinese, Dutch, French, GermanHungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Slovak; “Mini” Café Guidelines: Somali, Russian.

About World CaféWorld Cafe_logo
Using seven design principles and a simple method, the World Café is a powerful social technology for engaging people in conversations that matter, offering an effective antidote to the fast-paced fragmentation and lack of connection in today’s world. Based on the understanding that conversation is the core process that drives personal, business, and organizational life, the World Café is more than a method, a process, or technique – it’s a way of thinking and being together sourced in a philosophy of conversational leadership.

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Resource Link: www.theworldcafe.com/pdfs/cafetogo.pdf

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