Helping a friend with a design challenge today. He is running a small group process at the end of a day of presentations about energy futures in a small community. He initially thought that it would be good to end the day – in which 120 people are gathered to hear about energy futures – with action steps, but these kinds of gatherings are not good places to come up with action planning. Instead I advised him to use a World Cafe for reflection process to produce the elements of a shared vision. IN a little over an hour, good work can get done without raising expectations to high or demanding too much commitment from folks who just came to hear some presentations.
Here is the design I sent him.
You have a short time. Here’s a design:
Get people into groups of four. If you can, get them around tables with some markers and paper in the middle. If not, just have them move into groups of four chairs.
Tell people not to get comfortable. They will be moving twice in the next hour.
Give them a simple question: “what have you heard today that excites you about our future here?”
Tell them they have 20 minutes to share in their groups and discuss that question.
After 20 minutes stop them all, have everyone stand up together and move to different groups.
And repeat again.
Towards the end of the third round, say fifteen minutes in, give each group three post it notes and a pen. Ask them to reflect and agree on three things they heard commonly across all conversations.
To harvest, your ask anyone to read out one of their post it notes. Then you invite any group with a similar one to shout BINGO! And bring the notes to a wall in a nice neat cluster. I’m serious. The goal of the process is to get clusters.
Repeat until all the post it notes are on the wall. Have people come up to the wall and give the clusters names. Get the core team to look at the clusters and write a shared purpose statement from it. This is what you can present back the next day.
World Cafe is perfect for this. It works because it is based on a basic structure of small groups of four people, switching conversations to allow a whole group to deeply explore a question, and a harvesting strategy that makes visible what’s being collectively learned. And you can do it in a little over an hour.
Learn more about The World Cafe.
Great insights Chris!
Forgot to tell you, we did a world cafe’ in Kyrgyzstan and I used the inner clustering of post its plus other post its on the edges for individual contribution. It worked very well to get them to see both similarities AND weak signals. World cafe’ is great and pretty versatile
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