Figure 2 - Principles of the World Café (The World Cafe,n.d.)
Knowledge café defined
People have countless conversations, but one is often left wondering how meaningful theseconversations are. Furthermore, one can also ask if our conversations can orchestrate insightsand solutions to improve our existence. Instead of creating more information, canconversations create better understanding (Locke, Levine, Searls, & Weinberger, 1999)?These types of questions and thoughts gave birth to the concept of the café movement.Juanita Brown and David Brown are recognised as pioneers for the café movement. Theyformed the World Café in 1995 and defined it as “
a conversational process based on a set of integrated design principles that reveal a deeper living network pattern through which we co-evolve our collective future”
(The World Cafe, n.d.).The initial focus of the World Café was on communities. David Gurteen saw a similar needfor meaningful conversation in business and thus started the concept of the knowledge café in2002 as an alternative to traditional business presentations. He recognises that the GurteenKnowledge Café is similar to the World Café with the major difference being that theGurteen Knowledge Café does not make use of table hosts and the focus is on business issuesusing business language (Gurteen, 2011). In principle, the methodology of the World Caféand the Gurteen Knowledge Café is the same. Other practitioners describe the café model insimilar terms with the focus on small group dialogue where the participants can share openly,practise listening without judgement and are accepting of diverse opinions (Prewitt, 2011).David Gurteen argues that a knowledge café brings a group of people together to have anopen, creative conversation on a topic of mutual interest to surface their collectiveknowledge, to share ideas and to gain a deeper understanding of the issues involved. Theconversation ultimately leads to action in the form of better decision-making and innovation(Gurteen, n.d.; Pasher & Ronen, 2011).
Café hosting principles
World Cafés and Knowledge Cafés can behosted anywhere as long as it is based onthe principles of small groups and cross-pollinated discussions. The concept of acafé setting was selected as it represents ahospitable and friendly space. The meetingplace can be any environment that fostersdialogue; even virtual or online meetingspaces facilitated via the Internet can beused (Gross, 2008). The conversation hostsets the context of the dialogue and poses aquestion for discussion. The small groups,ideally not more than six participants in agroup, discuss the question in a respectfuland inclusive manner, often using a“conversation item” or a talking-stick, in-hand to identify the currentconversationalist. After a set time, the participants regroup and the conversation continueswith learning and insights drawn from the previous group’s dialogue. In the World Café, a