In a World Café, four people sit at a café-style table or in a small conversation cluster to explore a question or issue that matters to their community or organization. Other participants seated at nearby tables or in conversation clusters explore similar questions at the same time. As they talk, participants are encouraged to write down key ideas on large cards or to sketch them out on paper tablecloths that are there for that purpose. After an initial round of conversation in these small groups, lasting perhaps 20 to 30 minutes, participants are invited to change tables.
When participants travel, they carry key ideas and insights from their previous conversation into the newly formed group. In addition, one ‘table host’ stays at each table to share with new arrivals the key images, insights, and questions that emerged from the prior dialogue at that table. This process is repeated for two or three rounds and is followed by all participants participating in a whole-group conversation and contributing to a gathering or ‘harvesting’ of the actionable ideas and recommendations that have emerged.