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What, Why & When
The World Café is a method for facilitating discussions in big groups. With many participants, discussion rounds tend to be sprawling, slow and dominated by strong speakers. If you want to facilitate a discussion that is more effective, energetic, and inclusive, the World Café is a helpful technique. It divides participants into moderated subgroups, who then wander together through a parcours of stations with different questions, all the while the atmosphere is relaxed and casual like in a café.
Splitting big groups into subgroups fosters inclusive, energetic, effective and in-depth discussions:
- reserved speakers can feel more comfortable speaking in a smaller group
- the parcours format allows people to physically move through the room in between discussions
- the moderator can steer the discussion towards unexplored issues with every new subgroup
- every participant contributed to the collective results in the end
Depending on group size, room capacities and questions you want to discuss, different stations are set up (can be tables, boards, flipcharts etc.) with a moderator who will introduce the question and lead the discussion. The participants will be divided into as many subgroups as there are stations. Each subgroup will visit every station. The moderator welcomes the subgroup participants and introduces the question. Within a given time slot, the subgroups will discuss the question and write down their ideas and insights, before they then wander to the next station. The moderators remain with their station and welcome the next group. They present the question plus a broad overview of the insights of the former group and deepen the discussion with the new group. After the parcours has been completed by all subgroups, the moderators present the collective discussion results of each question to the full group.
It is helpful to have one moderator who is in charge of the clock and who manages the parcours direction.
Links & Further reading
The author of this entry is Dagmar Mölleken.