More often than not in a Café, the only outcomes are what the participants take away in their heads.
And so it is useful not only to glean some idea of what that is, not only for the sponsor of the Café but the participants themselves.
One easy and efficient way of doing this is to ask the participants to share their actionable insights with the rest of the group at the end of the Café when people are sitting in a Café Circle.
As the Café Host, choose someone at random sitting opposite you, someone whom you know will have something to say and won’t mind going first to share one thing, one idea, one lesson learned or one insight that they are taking away with them. Preferably something they intend to do in the coming weeks. Hence the term actionable insights.
Then move around the circle in a clockwise direction asking each person to share in turn. Also, share something yourself.
Tell people it is perfectly acceptable to say “pass” if for whatever reason they have nothing to say. They are not being held to anything.
You can capture actionable insights if there is a need. There are many ways in which you can do this, but two of the easiest are as follows:
- Ask people to write their insight on a 4 x 2 index card and collect them in.
- Ask people to write their idea on a post-it note and post it on a board in the room for everyone to see at the end of the Café. The advantage of this is not just that you can collect the post-its in, but everyone can take the time to look at them and even capture them in a photo with their mobile phones.
To keep to time, ask everyone to keep their actionable insight to a single sentence or two. Better still, if you ask them to write it on a card or post-it note then ask them to read it out. This helps prevent some of the most long-winded members of the group eating up the available time.
Sometimes, it makes sense to take a slightly harder line and rather than asking for an actionable insight that the participants are not held to, to ask for a pledge.
A pledge has a much more committed tone than an actionable insight.
Here you always ask people to write their pledge down on an index card.
On one side of the card, to write the pledge as a single sentence plus their name and on the reverse side of the card to write a fuller description.
These cards can be collected in, and you can follow up on the pledges in some way. For example, you can ask people to report back on the progress of their pledges a few weeks later.
But once again, one of the principles of the Café is that no one is made to do anything the don’t want to do.
So make it clear, that they can pass and that although you would like them to take their pledge seriously, there will be no comeback and no shame if they do not follow through on the pledge. On reflection, the following day they may decide the pledge was not realistic and cannot be kept, or they might just be too busy to keep to it.
But what you would like them to do if they are asked to report back at a later date is, to be honest as to the outcome of their pledge
[Status: work in progress. I need to say something about warning people that this is going to happen and to make a note – mental or otherwise of the actionable insight they intend to share.]
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