The basic idea behind the "World Café" method is to get workshop participants talking to each other and to be able to effectively discuss and reflect on issues or problems in smaller groups in an intensive exchange. The chosen questions are always target group specific and depend on the importance for the workshop participants as well as on their interests. Conceptually, the workshop aims to be similar to everyday conversations such as those held in a sidewalk café. Finally, a final discussion is held in the plenum, where the results are presented by the workshop participants. The "World Café" method makes it easy for participants to meet, get to know each other and exchange ideas quickly and without fear of contact.

Procedure: A World Café begins with a welcome and explanations of the exact procedure and the function of the hosts. The hosts are the fixed moderators or discussion leaders at the respective tables (core team agency and customer). In consecutive discussion rounds of 15-20 minutes, selected questions or problems are to be discussed simultaneously at several tables. In each round, the workshop participants write, draw and scribble what they think is most important on the paper. After each round of discussion, participants move to the next table. The hosts remain at their fixed table, welcome the round of discussions of new participants, summarize what has been discussed so far and get the discussion going again in their role as moderator.

When planning a World Café, the following questions are important:

  • What is the goal of the workshop?
  • What is the core topic?
  • What issues are to be discussed?
  • Who will participate?
  • Should participants be assigned to groups in advance, and if so, according to what criteria?

Properly chosen questions are the linchpin of the World Café. An exciting formulation of the questions should arouse the participants' curiosity and stimulate the conversation. At the same time, the questions must be catchy and understandable. The prerequisite for a successful workshop is a friendly, clear and open atmosphere at the tables, so that all participants can contribute to the successive discussions.

A World Café is workable in stakeholder groups of 15-200 people.

A contribution by:
Anna is a Product Owner and UX Designer at +Pluswerk
Write to her at info(at)pluswerk(dot)ag