The World Cafe Community

Hosting Conversations about Questions that Matter

I would like to introduce myself to World Cafe Community members.

My name is David Gurteen and for the last 15 years or so I have worked as a Knowledge Management educator and facilitator.

I advise clients on their KM strategies and implementation.  I give keynote talks at conferences. I run KM workshops. I facilitate Knowledge Cafes and run Knowledge Cafe masterclasses.

I am the founder of the Gurteen Knowledge Community - a community of over 17,000 people in 160 countries whose purpose is to help its members achieve their full potential by connecting them with like-minded people, new ideas, and alternative ways of working. 

Members receive my free monthly Knowledge-Letter that is now in its 11th year.

The community is supported by the Gurteen Knowledge Website ( – a resource website that contains book reviews, articles, people profiles, event calendars, jobs, inspirational quotations and an integral blog on subjects that include knowledge management, informal learning, creativity and innovation. 

The site provides a wide range of services such as RSS and Twitter feeds and email alerts.

I also have two LinkedIn Discussion Groups: The Gurteen Knowledge Community ( and the Gurteen Knowledge Cafe Forum ( and I am also active on Facebook.

But I would like to tell you more about my Knowledge Cafes. I call them Gurteen Knowledge Cafes mainly to distinguish my process from other forms of Knowledge Cafe and the World Cafe but also partly to brand them.

The roots of my Cafe are different to those of the World Cafe.

I started to run my Cafes in London, in September 2002 in response to my frustration with death-by-powerpoint KM talks. 

Although I was aware of the World Cafe at the time, because of the language that was used to describe it, I did not see it as a business tool and did not take too much notice of it.

I developed the Gurteen Knowledge Cafe from my own experiences and a desire for an alternative to traditional presentations.

In recent years, I have run my Knowledge Cafes and my Knowledge Cafe masterclasses, where I teach people how to design and run Knowledge Cafes, all over the world.

To give you an idea, I have run them in cities such as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Bangkok, Hong, Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Seattle, Phoenix, Quebec City, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bogota, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Oslo, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Brussels, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

What is interesting, now that I have taken the time to look closer at the World Cafe, is that the two processes are very similar.

There are differences though that although small on the surface, I think are significant e.g. no table hosts.
But the major difference is that my Cafes are business focused where the World Cafe is community focused. 

I use business language rather than community language and although there is a core process, I teach people how they can adapt the Cafe to different business ends.

Don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with the World Cafe and I love the work that the World Cafe Community is doing around the world to address social issues and build community. 

This is an area I am increasingly interested in. If you follow me on Twitter (@DavidGurteen) you will see many of my tweets tagged #SocialGood.

But it is hard enough selling the Knowledge Cafe concept into business organisations when the outcomes are so intangible, never mind using the language of the World Cafe which turns most business managers off.

I don't agree with it but that's the reality

I see a number of KM face-to-face knowledge sharing processes as having a great deal in common with each other e.g. peer assists, after-action reviews, post-project reviews, knowledge cafes and knowledge jams. If we add to these the World Cafe, Open Space Technology and Appreciative Inquiry then we have a category of face-to-face conversational based tools that I call "Conversation Cafes". I am also a keen advocate of Unconference and Barcamps.

This is increasingly my area of focus.

Over the coming 12 months, I plan to run many more of my open Knowledge Cafes (these are free events) and Knowledge Cafe masterclasses in London and around Europe but also as I have always done, around the world as I travel.


I hope this all makes sense. 

If you have any questions please contact me.


best wishes David

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