An Engagement Café is a form of Knowledge Café designed to help people engage with an issue such as a new policy or procedure.
Individuals and work groups in organizations, frequently write policy documents and document processes or procedures. They set out principles by which people should work. They set out strategies and plans for the future. They document what should be done and how it should be done.
They then publish the document according to company procedures.
Often, that is it – they tell people about the document by email and expect people to read it, and to take action.
It is not too surprising that many such documents never get read.
Reports aren’t knowledge.
Credit: Peter Senge
In a 2014 World Bank report it was found that out of about 1,500 reports produced in the years 2008 to 2012, 517 of them were never downloaded at all.
And even when a meeting is convened to communicate the work, more often than not it is a standard Powerpoint presentation plus Q&A type meeting. Such meetings are rarely engaging or effective.
Conversation is king.
Content is just something to talk about.
Credit: Cory Doctorow
A document or report, in isolation, achieves little. It is just content – information. It is not knowledge.
A second step is needed to turn the document’s content into actionable knowledge in people’s heads.
There are obviously different ways to do this, but one of the more effective methods is to run one or more Engagement Cafés that allow people to interact face-to-face to:
Knowledge is the capacity for effective action.
There is no capacity for effective action in a database.
Credit: Peter Senge
- read the document
- make sense of it
- put it into their context
- discuss it
- question it
- actively engage with it
- internalize it
- learn from each other
- be motivated by each other
- put the newly gained knowledge into action
The process takes the form of regular Knowledge Café but with a more substantial talk up front.
[Status: work in progress – more needs to be said about the process]
This page is part of an online book on Conversational Leadership that I am in the process of writing.
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