Book discussion clubs are limited in size to 12 to 16 people, and members meet about once a month to discuss a variety of books depending on their interests. If you are not familiar with the concept, you will find more about book discussion clubs here and how to run one here.
- The intellectual stimulation of diverse opinions
- To make new friends and deepen friendships with existing ones
- To meet like minded people and people very different to you
- The freedom to speak your mind
- To contemplate deeper issues
- To sharpen your communication skills
- To read more often
- To read material you would not normally chose to read yourself
- To discover new thought leaders and ideas
- The side conversations that take place
I prefer to use the term reading group as the material for study need not necessarily be a book.
In an organizational setting and the context of the Knowledge Café process and principles, reading groups can be transformed into Reading Group Cafés.
- They can become powerful professional development tools.
- They can be used to investigate and probe potentially innovative ideas, disruptive technologies and new ways of working.
- The reading material need not be a whole book; it could be a single chapter of a book or an HBR or Forbes article or some other relatively short document – something that rather than taking several days to read, may take 20 minutes or less. Such material is especially useful in a business context where time is short, and if the article is freely available online, it is easy for everyone to access at zero cost.
- Rather than asking participants to read a book or an article, they could be called upon to watch a video instead such as a TED talk, though then, strictly speaking, it is no long a book club or a reading group.
The process runs in a similar manner to the Knowledge Café:
- The participants are given a piece of material to read or watch either sometime before the Café or at the event itself.
- The host welcomes the participants.
- The Café starts with a short speed conversation session.
- The host briefly explains the process.
- Like the Café, there is an equivalent of a speaker – someone who is the focus for the topic of the Café. This speaker is often the host.
- The speaker talks briefly about the topic and introduces the reading material or video to be watched.
- The session then breaks out into regular Café mode – 3 rounds of conversation in small groups for 10-15 minutes per round but unlike the Café, there is not usually a particular question. The instruction is simply to discuss the material.
- At the end of the small group conversations, the participants form a circle as in a regular Café and continue the discussion. Here the ‘speaker’ plays a little bit more of an active role than in a regular Café by asking probing questions such as the ones listed below.
- And again like a regular Café, the participants are individually asked to share what they have learned or one actionable insight.
That’s it. As you can see – it is very similar to a regular Knowledge Café and like the Café, it can be adapted in many different ways.
Questions to stimulate the whole group discussion
- What ideas shifted your thinking?
- What did you agree with?
- What did you disagree with?
- Did you have any “aha!” moment or any profound insights?
- Did anything surprise you?
- Did you find anything confusing?
- Are the ideas practical?
- As a result of reading this item, is there anything you will do differently?
[Status: work in progress]
This page is part of an online book on Conversational Leadership that I am in the process of writing.
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