1) Setting: Create a "special" environment, most often modelled after a café, i.e. small round tables covered with a checkered tablecloth, butcher block paper, colored pens, a vase of flowers, and optional "talking stick" item. There should be four chairs at each table.
2) Welcome and Introduction: The host begins with a warm welcome and an introduction to the World Café process, setting the context, sharing the Cafe Etiquette, and putting participants at ease.
3) Small Group Rounds: The process begins with the first of three or more twenty minute rounds of conversation for the small group seated around a table. At the end of the twenty minutes, each member of the group moves to a different new table. They may or may not choose to leave one person as the "table host" for the next round, who welcomes the next group and briefly fills them in on what happened in the previous round.4) Questions: each round is prefaced with a question designed for the specific context and desired purpose of the session. The same questions can be used for more than one round, or they can be built upon each other to focus the conversation or guide its direction.
5) Harvest: After the small groups (and/or in between rounds, as desired) individuals are invited to share insights or other results from their conversations with the rest of the large group. These results are reflected visually in a variety of ways, most often using graphic recorders in the front of the room.
“The other one is that I’m very uneasy with Cafe-style type of
consultation. I went to two of the items with respect to the Library,
Mr. Merry, and I just had a sticky on the board, you never know where it
went, you never saw it reappear again, with no idea of whether it
World cafe whitewash
“There are also concerns about this ‘World Cafe’ format. For many of us who participated in them, it is simply a white-wash. First of all, people who are in favor of a project will dot every single table, sometimes 2 or 3 of them. As someone said, ‘you know these results are written on these little pieces of paper/post it notes — and guess what. There is a conclusion reached. Is it a conclusion that everyone voted on? We don’t know that. So, basically I think you need to rethink that.”
“But I want to make a comment regarding the World Cafe formats. Engagement is about getting all opinions into a room, not just those opposed to a project. A true representation of getting people who support, oppose, and aren’t sure, at the same table. It isn’t just about compromising.”
“We are here tonight because I’m assuming that the developers invited us here tonight and because they are interested in hearing what we have to say. Whether or not the World Cafe has every single person’s input into the final design, it is up to the developer at this point — in their living room. They have invited us here, which I think is wonderful.”