Hosting Conversations about Questions that Matter
A number of valuable insights appear to have emerged from this world café call, along
with a validation of some key themes to be addressed in the DoP. Hopefully the DoP’s authors will find this material useful in their drafting work. The
development of processes that will reconcile the tension between creating a
“Big Tent” and engaging in advocacy for change remains a challenge. Similarly, the idea of finding unity as a movement via democratic processes while respecting and encouraging diversity of opinion is a critical issue that concerned many of the café’s participants.
The virtual café process itself was largely successful, with the Maestro Conference
technology performing well in most respects. Some valuable suggestions were made for improving future calls. In general, the challenge of “creating a
hospitable space” (the second of the seven basic world café principles) in this
virtual environment is something that bears additional consideration.
It is recommended that the CPM continue to embrace these calls as a valuable tool for generating ideas, for connecting members throughout the country (and at varying levels of
the CPM organization) and for bringing in outside voices to assist in our
collaborative thought processes. Perhaps we are at a point where we might consider extending invitations to the broader membership directly, rather than spreading the word downward through the organizational hierarchy.
To be sure, not everyone was fully satisfied with their café experience. But positive comments, often paired with constructive criticism, were the norm. Here
is a selection of general comments received:
"I had no idea you could do breakouts in conference calls! Very cool, but I still
prefer being a part of a bigger group… Although I understand the need at times to
have smaller sessions, this early on I have to say that I'm far more interested
in hearing what MORE people have to say, not fewer… [O]therwise, I thoroughly enjoyed my second break out group once I got my bearings. In my first group my feeling was we felt like children suddenly forced to go to our rooms to be quiet and
contemplate what we had done wrong. . . we didn't know what to say or where to
"Thank you for the delightful World Cafe experience last night. Few things are more gratifying to me than collaborating on something meaningful with people who think well, and you all certainly qualify. I'm glad to have been part of it, and I look forward to doing more in the future."
"I like the concept of a World Cafe, but I think we need to have a very short introduction of the process when people are on the call... [to] quickly go over the process that the group will go through. It still is hard to know when someone wants to talk--some awkward pauses as we are in the small groups. Perhaps you could sort of 'warn' people about this, and to acknowledge that it's a bit stilted, but seems to get better as the small group figures out their own process… Several small group participants expressed that they thought there would be more participants. The impression is that hundreds of people are invited, and when only 20 or so show up, they wonder if they should participate. (I think it is so amazing that we can talk to people all over the country in a small group that I'm blown away by that alone!)… Perhaps we should open this up a bit more .”