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Archive for learning

Ba & World Cafe Hosting Fundamentals

CereusIn a recent Stewardship Council meeting welcoming new members Daisuke Yamaguchi (whose company translated the first World Cafe book into Japanese – see the essay he wrote for the World Cafe’s 20th Anniversary) and Sabine Soeder (whose grace and graphic facilitation so beautifully embodies the spirit of World Cafe), we were talking about “ba”, the Japanese concept (developed beautifully by Professor Ikujiro Nonaka) of the generative relational field that supports knowledge creation.

We were talking about it as part of the “hospitable space” we as World Cafe hosts strive to create as the container for World Cafe “magic” – sometimes known as collective wisdom – to emerge.

As “ba” speaks to both physical space and the more subtle realms, truly creating hospitable space for World Cafe means not only caring for the logistics of the World Cafe process, but it also a real understanding of the design principals that give the form its depth and meaning. This deeper look is the fielding-coursefocus of the World Cafe Hosting Fundamentals course we offer each year in partnership with Fielding Graduate University, and it is what makes it so valuable to World Cafe hosts whether you are just starting out or have years of experience.

This year’s course starts September 10th. Register now & invite the “ba” of World Cafe into your own practice.

Peer-Learning

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

Gems from the last Fielding World Café Learning Program

Here are some comments excerpted (without attribution) from Capstone Papers written by participants in the Hosting World Café: The Fundamentals course with Fielding Graduate University last Spring. They are answering the question “Describe what you have learned in this course”:

This course has taught me many nuances of working with diverse perspectives and combining many styles of communication. It has deepened my appreciation of the art of finding the best question for the issue. To test the questions for latent assumptions. To make sure the question will reach for the sharing of people’s stories and experience rather than ask for a binary answer or statement of dogma.

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“A deeper level of responsibility showed up in relation to my role as a table member. To be active and to be present matters to the quality of the conversation and to the overall well-being of the group.  And deeper still is the responsibility that I am carrying away- to invite and engage dialogue around conversations that matter..to do with what I’ve learned something productive and positive and powerful enough that spirits are called together.”

accent1“What’s fascinating is that a simple process based on principles can generate such deep connections. And of course the fact that while the actual experience for the participants could last only for a few hours, the rigor that is required in setting the context, diversity of the group to ensure inclusiveness and the laser sharp questions that get people to pause and share from deep within. What I absolutely love about the process is how quickly it helps people drop closely guarded ‘positions’ to genuinely connect and evolve something that’s larger than the sum of the parts.”

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“The graphic recorder being a keystone in the entire process also got me. Instead of merely capturing contributions for posterity, what’s now emerging is using this as a platform for helping participants make connections in the present.”

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“What most impresses me about the Café work is the extraordinary attention given to setting the context, the space, the questions, the contributions, listening, harvesting and the dialogue. Each one is equally valued, wonderfully described and indispensable. Rarely do we have such a perfectly thought out, researched, well developed organizational way of coming together.”

“Last year I participated in a World Café at ___ . I was very impressed by what I experienced and I am so pleased to have participated in this course where I now have the tools at hand to engage in this work myself.”

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“When I started out this course, I thought that the World Café was an interesting methodology for large groups interventions but I could not begin to imagine the understanding and depth that was behind it.

Working my way through the obligatory literature, I found that the World Café is actually a very researched and studied intervention methodology that goes far beyond what meets the eye”

accent1“I have learned how consciously and consistently the Seven Principles should be applied and how these interweave with each other in design, development, hosting and harvesting stages. I have also learned much more about harvesting – this was something about which I was concerned as I was unsure about my graphic skills. The different ways harvesting presented in the literature widens the choices available and I now feel I have a much better grasp on how this could work with my participant groups. This feels quite liberating”

accent1“I have appreciated the guided way in which we have been invited into the theoretical depths and nuances that the Café represents. The dissertation takes us through the processes of narrative inquiry, cycling in and around philosophical, ideological and sociological theories but also challenging us to consciously consider what this means in practice.”

accent1“I would say I have a much fuller understanding of how all of the principles work independently and together, a deeper understanding of the whole, but also of how the individual elements interact. Armed with that understanding, I take more confidence and trust into the process of hosting and interacting in conversations that matter”

accent1“I would never have had the opportunity to learn from and contribute to such wonderful conversations with people from around the globe had it not been for this online platform and for that I am very grateful. Online interaction can be a lesser substitute for face-to–face conversation, but in this case, I actually think I learnt more from having the time to reflect on questions and read others’ responses, asynchronously.”

accent1“I felt that as humans, we long to connect to each others. But in the western world, we are used to listen to the differences and to speak for ourselves, to demonstrate our leadership, our strengths, our efficiency and the value of our own ideas, in order to feel recognized and to find a place. At the opposite, in this World Cafe, I felt a deeper call from the heart, the brain and the spirit to connect with people. I have found “in the middle” a great sense of connectiveness, even at distance; individual characteristics didn’t matter anymore. That was my “mad magic in the middle”! I found that trust in each other is the key element for a meaningful conversation. That’s is also the moment we really start to learn from one another, by building on each others’ knowledge.”

accent1“The most interesting part to me was the diversity of people who had come together. I appreciated the diversity of thinking, the diversity of communication styles and the diversity of ways to approach the World Café process.”

accent1“What have I learned? So many things. I have to say that this course transformed me.”

accent1“What’s interesting for me to consider is that I’ve generally been a good listener, but that doesn’t mean I’ve always been the best conversation partner because my questions, were just, well, regular questions. Now I have some practical tools for asking better, deeper, more thought-provoking questions of individuals and groups I am working with. Questions that don’t lead in a particular direction, don’t assume too much or too little, that do keep ideas flowing, that do raise other even more interesting questions—these are my best learnings.”

accent1“This course was very helpful to my reigniting my passion to learn and try new projects and methods overall. Often as a solo practitioner I can tend to be insular in my thinking. I tend to stick to my knitting. Being engaged with such a diverse group of professionals was very enlightening.”

accent1“I was reminded of the reasons why I love the World Café process. It works the way I want the world to work.”

accent1“I like “being around” people who think like the people who took this course. I found them warm and generous … working at jobs that contribute to the world in a very positive way. These people make the world a better place.”