World (or knowledge) Cafe conversations reveal collective wisdom

World (or knowledge) Cafe conversations reveal collective wisdom

The The World Cafe is a book and 7 step conversational process to reveal collective knowledge, share ideas and insights, and gain a deeper understanding of the subject and the issues involved.

The World (or knowledge) Cafe defined


  • A knowledge café or World Café is a type of business meeting or organisational workshop which aims to provide an open and creative conversation on a topic of mutual interest to surface their collective knowledge, share ideas and insights, and gain a deeper understanding of the subject and the issues involved.
  • The knowledge café method has multiple origins with links to other related methods such as The World Cafe.
  • The knowledge café begins with the participants seated in a circle of chairs (or concentric circles of chairs if the group is large or the room is small). It is led by a facilitator, who begins by explaining the purpose of knowledge cafés and the role of conversation in business life. The facilitator then introduces the café topic and poses one or two key open-ended questions. For example, if the topic is knowledge sharing, the question for the group might be: "What are the barriers to knowledge sharing in an organization, and how do you overcome them?"

The World Cafe: Shaping our future through conversations that matter

by Juanita Brown with David Isaacs and the World Cafe Community, Berret-Koehler Publishers, Published 2005

The is a magnificent book. A significant contribution to bringing wisdom to the world.

  • The World Café reintroduces us to a world we have forgotten. This is a world where people naturally congregate because we want to be together. A world where we enjoy the age-old process of good conversation, where we’re not afraid to talk about things that matter most to us.
  • A world that constantly surprises us with the wisdom that exists not in any one of us but in all of us. And a world where we learn that the wisdom we need to solve our problems is available when we talk together.
  • it appears that our memory of how to work together in healthy, productive ways has been nearly extinguished by the creeping complexity of group work, facilitation techniques, obscure analytic processes, and our own exhaustion.
  • People are more polarized, more overwhelmed, more impatient, more easily disappointed in others, and more withdrawn than ever. We’re frustrated by the increasing number of problems that confront us and our impotence to resolve even the most simple ones.
  • We pay attention to the work in front of
    us, and thus lose any appreciation of the whole system. Isolated
    and alone, we lose courage and capacity; our work loses meaning
    and we end up with unending fatigue and loneliness.
  • The World Café process reawakens our deep species memory of two fundamental beliefs about human life. First, we humans want to talk together about things that matter to us. In fact, this is what gives satisfaction and meaning to life. Second, as we talk together, we are able to access a greater wisdom that is found only in the collective.

The seven World Cafe design principles are listed here.

I recommend the World Cafe Book and an extract of the book is available here.