The World Cafe Community

Hosting Conversations about Questions that Matter

The experience of a world café can be cathartic, enlightening and uplifting.  A buzz develops – a kind of overtone of resonant ideas  - carried through multiple conversations exploring what’s on our collective mind.  I’ve been a participant in these virtual forums several times now, most recently as a participant in the World Café Signature Learning Program. I always come away from a World Café experience feeling that something very special has transpired, and this was no exception. With a warm thank you to my class mates and hosting guides for their teachings and observations, I’d like to share a World Café success story.  Through conversation we shape new possibilities, reframe old perspectives, excite new commitments.  I offer here a participant’s view; a journal entry presenting the group narrative.

Notes as an Attendee at an on-line World Café event

In the first round there’s some anticipation.  You know something novel is about to happen, but the course is not yet clear.  Introducing ourselves you find people from around the world; in my case there were 3 of us – myself calling in from the eastern coast of the US, one from the UK, and another from Germany.  What could we have in common?  Well the conversation had us consider what inspires each of us, and why do we care?  The first to speak struggled with this, so deeply entrenched in family troubles that he was drawing a blank about inspiration. But the conversation took us to family patterns and work relations, accepting your strengths and your burdens, and to consider “appreciation” as a synonym for “inspiration”. There was intense listening going on, and I found it supportive & uplifting to hear the others speak with enthusiasm about something I had shared.

We moved through an unfolding conversation about the invisible forces at play when we interact, effecting the experience at a concrete level.  We were starting to feel some of these ourselves, accessing a new level of consciousness.  Our conclusion: what we bring to the table is our expectations and values, how we give priority and order to what occurs.  We were positioning ourselves around the work and in relation to each other.  Such richness of conversation, then “Gong”, and it’s time to move to the next round.

This time my partners were from other parts of the US, striking a different energy in the discussion.  Asked to first consider the themes that were emerging in our earlier group the focus became storytelling; unexpectedly the conversational threads were drawn to making the world a better place. We shared experiences of kindness and generosity we had encountered in other parts of the world, finding common ground on the receiving end of those welcoming scenes.  From there it was easy to move on to the challenge question, to identify what gives us courage to continue even in the face of uncertainty and setbacks

A very basic premise of the World Café is that the answer is in the room.   The process brings about a new consciousness of being intentional in how we present ourselves - creating an open space for others, listening well, and carrying the themes of what was said into our own thinking.  Gong and we change partners for the last time. With the third round we were asked to consider how this new information could be carried forward.  What would be one small yet powerful step you could take that would impact what you care most about?  Taking us back to the first round of conversation we considered how passions can be ignited. Life changing conclusions were being drawn Our Round 3 table message: If we can access people's hope in dire situations then we create a positive image of the future and fuel people’s desire for something different. 

Wow. The 3 rounds of conversation were so interesting and so different. It’s a profound experience to hear what you said bubbling in different places, in different ways. It brings you to think “I have an impact - I'm a part of this weaving”.

Finally came the “harvest”, a time where all of our voices are brought together to start making the connections as a collective.  Our hosts invoked the image of a ball of yarn passing over the room, connecting people & ideas.  We followed the themes and small pieces of new thinking that emerged.  Feeling heard/ listened to / cared for - how powerful is that. 

In the harvest we connected the different elements that were starting to come together in conversation.  It’s the time for mutual reflection, an opportunity to notice the deeper themes. A “graphic recorder” is listening closely to what transpires, visually capturing the patterns that emerge. The rendering translates the closing conversation into an image that calls forth the key messages of the harvest.

Listening in the right context brings forth ideas that are useful and relevant.  By bringing trust with you it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We pulled things out of each other that often we didn't know were there.  An idea bubbles up in other places in the room.   It may have originated with you but you don't own the idea anymore so you let go, it's no longer yours.  You’ve become part of the bigger community and the core assumption is confirmed:  the wisdom is already in the room.  Collectively in conversation, we bring forth the wisdom.   

– Joan Davis, Virtual Collaboration Consultant, J Davis Consulting, LLC www.theVirtualBA.com

Tags: collaboration, distributed, meetings, virtual

Views: 341

Reply to This

Replies to This Conversation

Joan,

It is WONDERFUL to hear this reflection on your experience.  Thank you so much for sharing it--and I'm sure Amy Lenzo, our Global Communications Coordinator and you, with the work you do, would have a lot to share with eachother.

With warm regards and gratitude,

Juanita

You're welcome Juanita, and thank YOU for enabling this truly unique experience.  You are spot on about Amy - we have found great synergy in the work we do and she is a guiding light as I set out to host my own virtual world cafe for business analysis professionals.  

Best wishes,  Joan

Thank you, Joan.  It is inspiring to hear you describe this experience!  I think your final paragraph is one of the best brief descriptions of the power of dialogue I have read:

Listening in the right context brings forth ideas that are useful and relevant.  By bringing trust with you it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. We pulled things out of each other that often we didn't know were there.  An idea bubbles up in other places in the room.   It may have originated with you but you don't own the idea anymore so you let go, it's no longer yours.  You’ve become part of the bigger community and the core assumption is confirmed:  the wisdom is already in the room.  Collectively in conversation, we bring forth the wisdom.  

In that spirit, I hope you will permit me to quote you from time to time!

Cheers,

Ben Roberts

Sure Ben, but I credit the class at large, for the article reflects our discussion of the value and etiquette of World Cafe conversations. It's simply amazing to me that the phenomena carries so easily to a virtual format.  I hope that I've been able to convey just a bit of the "good vibrations" that generate from the experience. 

Great harvest story! Thanks for sharing!

Ria

You're an inspiration, Joan! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful story, and for the great work you are doing.

What a beautiful reflection, Joan....very exciting t hear your experience.

With appreciation,

Juanita

RSS

Photos

Loading…
  • Add Photos
  • View All

Contribute!

If you appreciate the World Café and what this community space makes possible, please make your contribution - large or small - to the World Café Community Foundation now.


© 2014   Created by Amy Lenzo.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service