The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter

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The World Café process has been used by tens of thousands of people around the world to tackle real-life issues. Based on seven key principles, it begins with small, intimate conversations at café -style tables; these gatherings then link and build on each other as people move between groups and cross-pollinate ideas. In this way, Café learning enables even very large groups to think together creatively in a single, connected conversation. This complete resource explains the Café concept and provides readers with the tools they need to get started. Each chapter opens with stories from business, education, government, and community organizations, each a dramatic example of how leaders are using this process in the real world. Such stories underline the Café 's immediate, practical implications for meeting and conference design, strategy formation, knowledge creation, and large-scale systems change. The book includes a foreword by best-selling author Margaret J. Wheatley, an afterword by author Peter Senge, and real-world stories of the Café process in action at Hewlett-Packard, the nation of Singapore, and the University of Texas.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781576752586
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 388,873
  • Product dimensions: 7.36 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

A student of Sri Shyamji Bhatnagar since 1979, David Isaacs, Ph.D., was a professor of psychology for 29 years at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. He lives in New Jersey.

Wheatley is president of the Berkana Institute. She is a former professor of management at Brigham Young University. She has a M.A. in communications from New York University. She received her doctorate from Harvard.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2005

    Good Talk

    Authors David Isaacs and Juanita Brown came up with the idea for the World Café when they tried to rescue a meeting in their home that was threatening to turn into a disaster. Leaders from the Skandia Corporation were supposed to have a discussion on their northern California home¿s beautiful patio. Unfortunately, it was pouring. Brown and Isaacs had to squeeze 24 Swedes into their living room. They hastily covered small TV tables with sheets of newsprint anchored with small flower vases. Soon, the place looked like a coffee shop. The delighted guests began conversing immediately, eventually moving among the small groups to hear what others had to say. Thus, the World Café movement was born. Isaacs and Brown include many stories about ways that organizations have used World Café conversations. They provide lists, drawings and discussion questions. Brown¿s commentary on process and principles weaves all this together. She makes grand claims for this approach, believing that conversation is the wave of the future and the best way for people to learn and change. Jargon alert: the authors truly adore New Age gobbledygook. One example suffices: 'Optimum learning and development occur in systems in which there is a rich web of interactions, along with an environment of novelty where new opportunities and spaces of possibility can be explored.' Despite such warm-hearted mush, we recommend this book to managers who are willing to experiment with an innovative meeting format that lets them synthesize experts¿ ideas with the experiences of their own people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2005

    Great way to learn a process for hosting conversations that matter

    This book is amazingly thorough. It includes the theory as well as the process of The World Cafe. This process enables people to enter into conversations that generate shared meaning, new ideas and deeper relationships. I have participated in World cafes and am delighted that a book is now available. Stories from around the world convey the many varieties of World cafes possible. The book alsosheds light on the metaphor of World cafe -- the way we as humans literally shape our future through networks of meaningful conversation.

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