‘World Café’ Consultation Process

What is a World Café?

The ‘World Café’ originated in the United States, as a participatory consultation process which enables large groups of people to have a ‘Big Conversation’. www.theworldcafe.com

World Café is a dynamic process which Fran adapts to the topic, room space, attendee number, time schedule and budget. Essentially each café follows a similar format:

1. Presentation or information about the topic
2. Groups split into smaller sub-groups
3. Each sub-group has an ‘area,’ which can be a table-space, flip-chart or circle of chairs
4. The discussion question is written/displayed in a visible place
5. The sub-groups elect a host and begin discussing the question for a specific time
6. The participants record their comments/thoughts/ideas in some form, either on large table sheets or post-its or cards – it is important that all responses and ‘voices’ are recorded.
7. At the end of the allocated time the group stops talking, the host remains at the table and the remaining participants move to new tables.
8. The host feeds back the previous discussions to their new group and the group resumes their discussions.

9. Ideally this process is repeated 3 times, but it can work very effectively with 2 rounds. At the end of each question session the host feeds back the main discussion points from their table.
10. These are recorded on a large scale wall map by a scribe or graphic recorder.
11. At the end of all discussions these maps are fedback to the main group, so they can ‘listen’ to everyone’s discussions.
12. The event lead can synopsise the outcomes, which is then also recorded by a scribe.
13. After the event the maps are scanned and emailed to the participants.

These ‘Maps that travel’ are used as memory triggers to recall the information shared, presentation tools to share information with their teams, and on social media to raise awareness.

As an expert graphic facilitator Fran has used the World Café process extensively, participants respond to the openess and energy of the method, which results in high levels of engagement and sharing. The inclusiveness of the process where everyone has a ‘voice’ which is recorded  on the table sheets creates a powerful space for conversations.  It is also an ideal networking process as the participants are mixed into different groups during the rounds of discussions. This innovative, flexible format can be adapted to a wide range of scenarios, these can range from:

• 1000+ people in a lecture theatre, working in groups of 4 using post-its and large wall sheets
• groups of 20+ people sitting at circular tables covered with sheets, feeding back to a graphic facilitator
• groups of 20+ people (in a room with no tables) clustering around flipcharts with a facilitator harvesting the responses and a scribe creating a visual map

Recent World Cafés

‘Shaping the Future’ Discussion Event
Fran created and led a bespoke World Café style process to for Menter Môn’s Learning & Development Supply Chain discussion event. Working with her team of 6 facilitators, the 55 delegates were led through 3 question rounds, resulting in 25 table sheets and 9 strategic maps. Judy Craske the project lead was able to use the information to define her procurement strategy.

“Lots of energy, enjoyment, problem-solving, information and opinion.”  “I thoroughly enjoyed today – well done.”

“WOW – what a brilliant workshop. The energy from the facilitators, and their overall approach was really stimulating and enthusing. I came away totally exhausted and inspired.”

“These (maps) are fab – such a great innovative way of working and really symbolic of the whole StF identity! Very successful event!”

NHS World Café
She co-led and graphic facilitated a World Café with 20 people at Wrexham General Hospital to demonstrate the process to as part of a visual communications training workshop.

WIN Global Leadership Conference
In the WIN Global Leadership Conference 2011 Fran led a two World Cafés – one in the plenary she was moderating, and co-led one at the Mentoring Forum – using flipcharts and post-its.

Fran developed the ‘post-its and flip-charts’ version of the World Café method and used it once at the 2010 conference and twice at the 2011 conference. It has proven to be very effective where there are no tables in a room and time is limited.

The World Café process was used as a basis for the Age Cymru 'Seizing the Moment' map session

Oxfam/Age Cymru ‘Seizing the Monent’ Policy Setting Seminars
To increase engagement and for them to really listen to their seminar attendees, Age Cymru incorporated a World Café style discussion session in the event. Using a graphic map for feedback and comments, which the participants fedback their ideas from, and contributed to a giant policy-setting wall map. In North Wales parts of the session were delivered in Welsh, with headphones provided for those that needed them.