The Art of Hosting


I've hosted a number of World Cafes - however none of them have involved more than 40 people.  In terms of harvesting so far I've experimented with the following approaches:

1.  creating a collective story harvest.  the approach I have experienced and subsequently used involves asking someone from a table to share a key insight/idea/theme/insight, and then inviting others to share any of their ideas/insights which connect with this theme.  The process continues until the core essence of the conversations is visually represented on a whiteboard/butchers paper. works really well for a smaller group, but I imagine it may be unworkable for larger groups.

2.  inviting participants to write down two insights/ideas/questions on separate index cards. These were collected, transcribed, and then shared with a sub-group of participants to draw out the main themes.  The raw data as well as the sub-group's analysis was then shared with all original participants.  Unfortunately however, there was no process during the World Cafe itself of collective meaning making.

3. I have been thinking about providing participants with 1-2 large sticky notes to record their key insights/ideas/questions, and then inviting each to successively stick them on a wall and briefly explain them to the wider group.  We could then reorder/cluster them as we go to identify emerging themes. 

4.  I read about Chris Corrigan's use of SMS/text messaging  straight into Wordle which he used at a conference of nearly 1000 delegates

I'd be really interested to hear about your experience of harvesting.   What approaches have you used, and what have you learned?  I'm particularly interested in your thoughts on harvesting the conversations of larger groups (e.g say 50+).



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Hi Paul, great question you are raising here! And sure, the third point is used a lot.

If you have a workbook from your AoH training, it might well be that there is a description of the Collective MIndmap, which can be used with bigger groups.

And... as gooed as this online community is, most people use the emaillist to post questions like these - so I advice you to post this question over there (too) and wait for the different answers that will come up.

And you probably find good stories (of harvesting) on the World Café site.

WIth love,


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