Get to know the different types of World Cafés

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We host virtual World Cafés too!          Learn more about our approach
WCE Virtual

Explore the different types of World Cafés

Not all World Cafés are the same!

There is a broad spectrum of different approaches available to design a World Café. What unites all our World Café types is the use of dialogue to fulfill established goals, explore possibilities and create results. Learn more about the characteristics of these various World Cafés. Which type would be appropriate for your envisioned meeting?
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Virtual

Offers an opportunity to harvest collective intelligence of people in numerous milieus and encourage change to emerge.
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Generative Café

Generates new ideas and insights about a question or topic.
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Collaboration Café

Promotes cooperation across organizational and/or societal boundaries to discover new ways to work together.
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Swarm Intelligence Café

Clarifies complex issues by drawing on the “wisdom of the crowd”.
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Absorption Café

Provides a space for individuals to reflect upon the implications of a complex issue for their daily lives and/or work.
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Business

Champions the co-creation of innovative ideas which emerge from a diverse group of participants and enables companies to attain sustainable success in an increasingly complex world.

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Solutions Café

Uses collective wisdom to identify the action steps which will be needed to realize the envisioned result.
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Decision Making Café

Fosters alignment among key stakeholders to enable joint decision-making on key strategic issues.
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Keturi

Enhances the quality of communication by integrating the vital components of movement, music and art into the conversation.
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What sectors would be enriched through the use of a World Café?

Social Cohesion

People who are in conversation with each other discover new insights about the progress and challenges of their neighborhoods, cities or rural communities where they live, go to school and work.
WCE Soziale Kollaboration

Social Collaboration

Thoughts intermix and evolve into a distinct group understanding of the topic at hand. Numerous possibilities for group effort emerge.
WCE Engagement

Engagement

Shared solutions take form when engaged citizens join together in conversation about issues that matter.
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Health

Conversations among groups of people about health engage them to reflect upon health in all its facets – mental, social and physical well-being.
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Creativity

An unexpected mix of conversational approaches and innovative use of the arts fosters group creativity.
WCE Soziale Verantwortung

Corporate Social Responsibility

Conversations about a CSR initiative enable an organization to broaden its focus and embrace the diversity of its stakeholders’ aspirations.
WCE Unternehmen

Business

Innovative ideas developed by a diverse group of people is key to a company’s long-term achievement in an increasingly complex world.
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Wild Card

Untried and innovative ways to embrace conversation and explore issues that matter are realized.

The World Café as a Dialogic Approach

What makes it so powerful?

“If you want to change the future, you have to change the conversation.“ affirms Alan Webber, founder of the Fast Company magazine and former Chief Editor of the Harvard Business Review. There is a lot of truth in his statement.

The basis of World Café Europe’s work to foster meaningful conversations about issues that matter is based on two underlying assumptions:

The knowledge and wisdom which we require is already present and can be made accessible

Participants bring his/her personal life experience to the conversation. No one person may have an overview of all the potential solutions for a given topic. However when enough people are brought together in a large group dialogue, this knowledge is actually present. A key challenge when organizing such a large scale dialogues is to ensure that the right people are in the room. As a result, the invitation strategy plays a central role in tandem with the content formulation during the World Café process. World Café Europe has developed many formats to make this knowledge in the room visible to everyone.

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”  
Albert Einstein

Try this brief thought experiment:

Imagine a World Café with 200 partipants at 50 tables. There are four participants at each table. During the first round of conversation, 4 opinions are represented at the table. When the participants change their tables for the first time, four new people sitting together. Each of these participants brings 4 opinions to the next discussion. As a result, 

Result: 16 opinions are ‘represented’ at the table. This process continues in the subsequent rounds of conversations. During the third discussion round, 64 opinions are represented and during the fourth round 256 opinions are represented. Theoretically, by only changing the tables three times, the opinion of every participant on the given topic is represented!


A metaphor from neuroscience provides a visualization of this process:

When neurons in our brains are connected with each other, knowledge emerges. By connecting all the participants in the room by regularly changing tables, a similar process occurs during the course of a World Café.

When the system connects with itself in creative ways, collective intelligence emerges.

There is a constant change of tables during a World Café to make sure that the ideas which are being discussed are also disseminated throughout the room. The changing of tables has an additional effect: it supports the emergence of key shared understandings which are circulating in the room.


“Dialogue…is a way of exploring the roots of the many crises that face humanity today. It enables inquiry into, and understanding of, the sorts of processes that fragment and interfere with real communication.”

David Bohm

Freiraum – Your Ideas have Priority!

e.kundenservice NETZ, Hamburg and Landshut

e.kundenservice Netz GmbH is an innovative services company in the energy and network business. Its strategic planning team aspired to broaden the understanding of the role of organisational culture throughout the company. By giving their employees a voice via participation in the frei.raum World Café, ek.N aimed to initiate the renewal of their communication culture and foster a community spirit throughout the company. Two simultaneous World Cafés were held with approximately 220 employees in Hamburg and Landshut. The feedback from the employees during these events provided not only a broad spectrum of business ideas to inform evolving strategy but also provided an enhanced understanding for the design of future innovative employee development programs.
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Other examples of our co-creation with partners

WCE Referenz Regsam

Solutions Café 
Ingelheim

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We are Neuhausen Nymphenburg 
 a neighbourhood World Café in Munich

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8 Steps in the development of a World Café

Define the Challenge

Identifying why the conversation needs to take place

Set the Framework

Defining the conversation’s goals and outcomes 

Invite the Participants

Determining who needs to participate in the conversation

Design the Experience

Selecting the conversation’s content, formulating powerful questions and determining the setting

Facilitate the Dialogue

Guiding the energy in the room

Capture and Visualize Ideas

Making the emerging collective intelligence of the conversation visible

Analysis and Documentation

Understanding the results, the conversation’s impact and its meaning

Dissemination / Next Steps

Communicating the conversation’s results and reflecting upon the next action steps

Creating the World Café Experience

We are your experts for the creation of professional large group dialogues.

Benefit from our know-how and years of experience with the design and realization of memorable World Cafés. World Café Europe offers the following services to support your efforts to make your World Café its very best.

We can help you in the following areas:

  • Creating the optimal dialogue experience

  • Enhancing your dialogue during the Planning Phase
  • Enhancing your dialogue during the Implementation Phase
  • Extending the echo through dissemination of a World Café’s impact
  • Helping to make your dialogue more effective through coaching

Download an overview of our consulting services

The World Café Europe Handbook

Learn about all the key elements that go into the making of an inspiring World Café
Discover more
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