Atom Wave team together with Lizzie Crudgington of Bright Green Learning and an in-house team of 32 people, designed and organized the 1st Corporate World Café in Greece for Eurobank.
In less than 6 hours, 150 participants fully engaged and discussed a series of 4 key Solution Focused questions about the business future, shared practices that have worked, brainstormed ideas and put all the findings together, created an action team which got started for implementation as of the day after. How did this happen?
So here are 3 tips that can help you ease large groups into meaningful discussions so that they can benefit from sharing each other's wisdom.
1. Engage - It is not so much as to what happens during the actual meeting, it is the before that counts. Organize a core team that will participate in the whole design of the meeting. Beyond the obvious of sharing work and assigning roles, this is more about involving the core team into co-creating a meaningful outcome about the meeting.
One of the solution focused questions we always make is: Suppose this meeting is meaningful, how will you know? How will your people know? Your boss? Your clients?
When the core team has ownership of the design and the process, then they communicate their support and engagement to the participants and this helps the process become more productive.
2. Excite - If we want participants to bring in this meeting their creativity, their whole self, we need to pass a message of positive climate and openness. And this is something people get from the "warmth" of the invitation, the set up of the room with music and rotunda tables with checkered tablecloths, from the tone of the facilitator but more essentially from the communications with the representatives of their own organization.
3. Prepare - prepare - prepare - as they say in facilitation. In World Cafés, discussions take place in small groups of 4-6 people and for each question/round, participants change tables and get to work with a whole different team. At the same time, a team at the back of the room is simultaneously processing the output from all tables and filters key points, while a graphic recorder is capturing these key points and creates a graphic representation of everything said. So this whole meeting looks like an informal happy gathering, with busting energy, rich output but has a lot of work behind it. Key things to do: create succinct questions that will hit the mark and make people think beyond the obvious, plan what everyone will be doing, set up an agenda that will have everything to the minute including everything even the unexpected.
At the end, participants said they had never imagined they could have done so much work in so little time. I would say that we feel very thankful we had the opportunity to introduce the World Café methodology of discussion in the Greek corporate world through Eurobank!