Archive for Africa

World Café Services: An Update from Deborah Goldblatt

With the launch of our new website on June 1st, World Café Services moved into high gear with a flurry of inquiries from all directions!

During the month of June and July, I enjoyed many conversations with people from a variety of public and private sectors:  education, energy, forestry, sustainability, entrepreneurship, immigration, climate change and health.  

World-cafe-services-logo What is so encouraging for me about World Café Services is being on the frontlines of the World Café world hearing about the diverse communities and businesses who are curious about The World Café – not just as a method or process but as a practice and way of being in all our communications – and are wanting or are already implementing an approach of “learning together through inquiry” in life and work today.

World Café Services, through our professional network, is serving community and business clients everywhere– whether that’s by having a half hour conversation with myself and others looking at the possibilities of convening very small or very large groups in a new way or exploring ways to renew or deepen the conversations they’ve been hosting internally within their organizations.

One of my favorite stories from this month’s World Café Services work is helping an organizing team for a conference in Arusha, Tanzania to find some guidance and support to co-create their World Café design.

The other day I checked in to see how the team’s needs and aims had been met through our consulting services.  This is the response I received:  “She was delightful to work with and gave just enough input.  I have been saying that the World Café is not rocket science, but we needed to have a rocket scientist come and reassure us that that was the case!”  Our service provider had this to say: “I hosted a mini café with 9 participants (10 with me!) and they just loved it!!  We spent a good chunk of time working through the harvest method, table set up, talking piece etc., followed by an hour working through the questions. We agreed on the gist of the questions and a smaller team of 2-3 will refine the design with me between now and October. They are a really open, smart, thoughtful, committed, fun and deeply experienced group – it was an honor and pleasure to work with them.”

On the corporate side of The World Café Services (WCS) work, a successful half day Café was recently convened by a group of transportation and logistics contractors for an energy company who have been engaging The World Café process and methodology for some time now.  Our WCS’ host had this to say: “I think the folks who experienced the café (yesterday) really liked what it can do and now can begin to see possibilities.  I received a lot of positive feedback from both the contractors and the folks who attended.  They love being able to participate and apparently they are the only energy company who invites them in like this.”

Immediately following the Café, the graphic recorder Mike Fleisch shared what he captured, to the amazement of everyone in the room:




A couple of interesting snippets from my communications came from one of our service providers:

“What I have found with some HR/OD folks is a perspective that this is just another tool to have in the toolkit.  They seek a "cookie cutter" approach – a step-by-step process for how to do this, without wanting to really learn what lies beneath.  What does it really mean to host a cafe vs. facilitate?  How do I host through emergence vs. push through an agenda?  How do I really listen for what is bubbling up from the ideas/conversations/lists of things that are emerging?  How does hosting well help emergence/innovation/creativity to come through?”

Another on another topic…

“I work with many organizations who now have incorporated World Cafe into their board meetings – looking for boards to become more engaged as board members.  The questions are around strategic business decisions that have to be made and they love the process and they love being engaged.  Our community has really found itself wanting to be connected and engaged more through their experiences with World Café.”

My gratitude to everyone who helped seed, grow, develop and implement World Café Services long before I came on the scene.  It is wonderful to have the opportunity to share some of the learning, questions, appreciation and challenges that accompany this work with you.


Deborah Goldblatt


We received this email recently from Jennifer Goudemand in South Africa. It was so beautiful I had to share it with you all here:

"Thank you for this work – I stumbled upon this methodology very recently, and am awed by the power, relevance and willingness to share evident in The World Cafe.

In my country, we are undergoing many changes, and, as is the way with all humanity, we resist them largely as vexing and irrelevant to our selfish needs. The ethos of the Café system allows us an opportunity to connect with peoples of all political and religious shapes and sizes, to better understand what we all aspire to, in the proverbial Bigger Picture.

Remarkably, in my personal experience, most of Mankind has similar desires and goals – the safety of our families and loved ones, the education of our children, the right to pursue opportunities unfettered. Sadly, our dogma has created a gulf across which it is sometimes nigh impossible to traverse, but which is reachable via the bridges the Cafés create, pockets of safety in which to explore another’s point of view, unthreatened. And to learn, continually, the value of Oneness. 

I’ve had only warmth and ‘Ubuntu’ from your people: “…what is this thing we call Ubuntu? … Ubuntu means each one of us can only effectively exist as fully functioning human beings when we acknowledge the roles that others play in our lives. Most Nguni languages in Southern Africa will say: “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu [a person is a person through other persons, or I am because we are]”.

It is about accepting our inherent interconnectedness. This is the one missing piece of our current socio-political, leadership and business puzzle. At a glance, ubuntu seems idealistic. Yet, when understood, it is the foundation for social coherence. It engenders self-respect, whose current lack among individuals across all communities (rich and poor) breeds the levels of violence we experience.” (Dumisani Magadlela)

I look forward in great excitement to making World Cafés the adjunct to my work and life, to meeting the minds of others and understanding their stories, which must be one of the most enriching Learning Curves to which I’ve ever been led.

In great appreciation for your dedication, and the gifts bestowed.