Thursday, October 6, 2016

Café Culture

Halfway through Everybody Behaves Badly, I'm reminded how so many of the 20th century's big ideas were born in cafés. Ideas like DNA, the computer, surrealism and existentialism.

Conferences rarely birth more than bunches of sore butts.

But we could do better.

World Café is an effort to try.

More a movement than a method, World Café urges conference organizers to structure large-group dialog around five principles:
  • The meeting environment should be special and modeled after a café; no more than five people should sit at any one table.

  • A host is assigned to each table; she should welcome attendees by setting the context and sharing the rules of café etiquette.

  • Dialog should comprise 20-minute rounds; after each round, the groups disband and move to different tables.

  • Every round should be prefaced with a specially-honed question; questions can be repeated at subsequent rounds, or build on previous questions.

  • Between rounds, attendees should share insights and results; those reports should be captured in cartoons at the front of the room.
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