The Art of Hosting

From the email list March 2013...

Have you adapted world cafe for a tiny group (6-7 people)? Any learnings? I hAve a client group that expected more participants,  but we're small now... "cafe" is tomorrow (March 12).

Amy Watson


Hi Amy,

exactly that happened to me and a small group four years ago. As a political action to the elections in Germany a large World Café was planned. But the weather at this Sunday was fantastic and so only seven appears, me included. What seemed to get very disappointing in the first moment ends as a beautiful experience. What we did:  
- We started with a look on the prepared questions and changed them together and chose three of them
- divided us in three groups (2x2 and 1x3)
- each group started one topic/table, 
- nobody remains as a host and the participants of the three groups didn´t changed (so we built three small teams) 
- with the following two switches of tables each team find unknown content, looked for orientation and added their insights. So all groups contributed at all tables.
- Interesting: at each table emerged a different design (see in the attached harvest)
- Then we sat all together in a circle with the three tablecloth in the centre. Very fruitful to reflect in common the patterns and our desires concerning our political system. It felt like a breakthrough when one participant declared: We want more joy with the we. Yes!
All the best,
Hi Amy,
Six makes it difficult to do café – but I have, with a very small group, used pairs or triads and rotated similar to a World Café kind of flow.  It still works well.  K
Kathy Jourdain 
Like Kathy, I've used appreciative interviews prior to stepping into World Cafe.  That might work very well in helping this group to get deeper.  Debrief the interview in World Cafe and afterwards, have a full group sensemaking on the patterns people are seeing together.

Mary Alice Arthur

The event has passed with great results! We used Rolf's innovation, using the tables as participants,  essentially- -messages left at the table were the" hosts". We did six rounds with 3 questions,  encouraging folks to visit each question twice.  At the end of 3 rounds, I passed out post-it pads and asked everyone to identify three simple, elegant themes from each of the three questions.

Then I posted the three questions on the wall and asked everyone to place their notes, attending to similarities. . Finally, with a couple folks per question,  we asked them to report out on the major responses. 

It seems complex but worked fabulously.  Thank you!


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