How to Run a World Café™
Learning Together in a Fun and Friendly Environment
"That's OK, Kim, I'll cash up. You head home now." Overall, Lori is pleased with how her team has taken to her since she took over the Bridesburg salon six months ago. The salon, one of three in a chain across Philadelphia, has reported increased sales and the customers seem happy.
But Lori also knows that she can't afford to be complacent. There are her own key performance targets to meet, of course, but simply seeing which retailers have come and gone in her shopping mall each month is evidence enough of the deeply competitive environment that she's working in.
Lori has some ideas for improvements, but she doesn't want to just impose them. She wants to get her team members' input, not least because it will be up to them to deliver on what's agreed. The answer, she decides, is to bring the team together in a "World Café" – a process that generates open and honest conversation, creative ideas, and knowledge sharing in a structured yet free-flowing way.
In this article, we'll explain what a World Café is and what you can use it for. We'll outline how to set one up and run it for yourself, and we'll look at its benefits and weaknesses.
Understanding World Cafés
The idea of creating café-style areas in which to collaborate and share knowledge grew out of the work of a number of academics and workplace consultants in the 1990s. Generic "Knowledge Cafés" include the one created by British "conversational facilitator" David Gurteen.