Gosh it’s been a while.
From organising and presenting at academic conferences, I now have to do the toughest job of all – facilitating a ‘World Café’ session for academic staff. Why did I even bother suggesting it???
A World Cafe approach is designed to focus and enhance the quality of a key conversation or debate by drawing on the talent and wisdom of a group of people engaged in a collective conversation.
World Café dialogues are designed on the assumption that people-through their collective wisdom and intelligence-have within them the creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges. The process is simple, yet it can yield surprising results. The design of the World Café session enables groups—of any number—to participate together in evolving rounds of dialogue with others while at the same time remaining part of a single, larger, connected conversation. Small, intimate conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into the questions or issues at hand. As the ideas and arguments develop through the diversity of views, listening, and physical movement between tables, a sense of the collective wisdom of the group becomes stronger. In this respect ‘diversity’ and ‘movement’ are key in a World Café session. Diversity, as only when we have many different perspectives do we allow an accurate picture of a complex problem. And the movement, usually from table to table, is much more than physical movement: As we move, we leave something behind to attain something new from another branch of the topic being discussed. We become, as such, bigger, wiser and represent a growing collective conversation, and innovative possibilities are more likely to emerge