Archive for hosting

Activating Collective Wisdom

(first published in weDialogue, May 2017)
The capacity to activate collective wisdom is at the very heart of the work I do, both in my spiritual practice and in my work with groups through participatory group processes like World Café, Open Space, Circle, etc.. As a host of participatory practice, my understanding of collective wisdom has largely been that of a field of shared awareness that can arise within the group when certain conditions are in place.

While it’s certainly true that Collective Wisdom arises from particular qualities of intention and attention, in practice its presence or absence has always been a bit of a mystery to me. In my experience, sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t – even when it appears that pretty much the same conditions are in place.

So you can imagine the enthusiasm of my “yes” when long-time friend and colleague Alan Briskin – one of the pioneers in shaping the language and ideas associated with collective wisdom and a leading practitioner in the field – asked if I wanted to collaborate with him to produce an online program on this subject.

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An Essay for the World Café 20th Anniversary

Reflecting on the origin of the World Café and inquiring into the value that we should uphold as practitioners for the promising future…
by Daisuke Kawaguchi, Chief Researcher, Human Value

peaceworldIt has been 20 years since the World Café was born into this world by Juanita Brown, David Isaacs, and other practitioners. Since its birth, enormous numbers of café conversations have been conducted to shape better futures, and now the World Cafe is known as one of the greatest methodologies for generative facilitation in a variety of areas. In Japan, as well, the movement of the café conversations has been wide-spread with a large influence on our way of communication and collaboration after the book of “The World Café – Shaping the future through conversations that matter” was published in Japanese translation.

Reflecting on the very early days, a founder, Juanita Brown once said to me under the beautiful sunshine in Jonesborough, “The name ‘World Café’ came from the desire that the café conversations will be able to contribute to the World Service in the future.” I believe this desire has been half-fulfilled as we see the values and impacts that the World Café has accomplished so far.
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The World Cafe Hosting: The Fundamentals course we host in collaboration with the Institute of Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University is offered in a peer-learning format.

…What the heck does that mean?!” you may ask.

Well … let’s start with what peer learning ISN’T, at least in this case.
Peer learning isn’t being left to your own devices without guidance or attention. My co-presenter Bo Gyllenpalm and I will be paying close attention to your learning process, and we’ll be there to respond to your questions and offer help at crucial times.

Peer learning isn’t about an unstructured environment. This course has been carefully designed as an immersion into the World Cafe method, and the principles that give the method its form. Deepening your understanding of these principles will give you the solid ground you need to design, host, and harvest World Café events in any sector, and help you evolve your hosting practice, no matter what your current level of experience is.

Peer learning doesn’t use the standard one-to-many model of education, although you will have access to all the written and multi-media resources you need, as well as engagement with some of the most experienced and innovative World Cafe hosts in the world.

There will be weekly assignments and expectations, but within that structure you are the one that determines the pace, and ultimately the depth, of your learning.

But peer learning isn’t just student-led learning; it’s an interactive, participatory process that relies on real engagement. You have a lot of responsibility in this course – for your own learning, yes, but even more importantly, for the level of your engagement with others. In this course, your peers are your most powerful allies; the depth of your engagement with them will determine the depth of both their learning and yours.

Make no mistake – this course will ask a lot of you. It’s not something you can skate through and watch a video later to catch up on. It is a robust, professional-level learning experience at a premier graduate learning university. You will come out of it with academic and professional credit, and a foundation for your World Café hosting practice that you simply could not get otherwise, even after years of practice on your own. Why? Well one reason is because you have a circle of quality peers to learn with and from.

There are research studies and significant statistics to back this up, but on one level peer learning is just common sense. If you think about, it’s the way we as human beings have always learned – from and with each other. And it’s one of the World Café’s basic premises that together we know more than any one of us alone could possibly know.

The fact that we all learn and grow through the networks of meaningful conversation that make up our lives and work is the foundation of Conversational Leadership. And it’s key to many of the principles that inform not only World Cafe hosting practice, but all participatory engagement. In other words, it’s a great muscle to build and keep well-exercised.

Peer-learning is not just a one-way street, either. Bo and I both learn a LOT from participants every time we offer this course – about the course and what will make it better, but also about our own hosting practice and what makes us better, more effective World Café hosts.

So come join us – we look forward to learning with you!

Peer Learning