Consider this description of the process as a starting point for your thinking and not a prescriptive recipe.
- People are invited to the Café. They are not mandated to participate.
- A Café is a gathering, not a meeting.
- The Café host welcomes the participants.
- The host initiates a short session to help connect people. This often takes the form of three short rounds of speed conversation.
- The host briefly explains the intent or purpose of the Café and the Café process.
- The host makes the point that during the small group conversations it is OK to go off topic.
- The host then introduces the Café Speaker.
- The speaker gives a short talk. Ideally, this is without powerpoint slides, but a few slides are acceptable in some contexts.
- The speaker typically speaks for less than 10 minutes but usually no more than 20 minutes.
- At the end of the talk, the speaker poses a provocative question to the participants to initiate the conversation.
- The participants sit in small groups of 3 or 4.
- Everyone is equal. There are no table hosts, leaders or not takers.
- Three rounds of small group conversation now follow. Each round lasts 10 to 15 minutes.
- At the end of each round, the host asks a few people from each table to move to another table. The instruction is not more prescriptive than that.
- At the end of the three rounds, the host stops the conversation and asks the participants to move the tables to one side of the room and to form a circle of the chairs.
- A whole group conversation then continues in the circle.
- The host goes around the circle and asks each person to share one actionable insight that they are taking away from the Café.
- Finally, the host thanks, everyone and closes the Café.
A snippet of the conversation from one of my Knowledge Cafe Workshops at the RSA in London in December 2011. The video is not meant to convey the conversations but the engagement of the people and the energy in the room.
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