Training on World Café method at an International Organization (FAO).
Gauri Salokhe, FAO, Rome (Italy)
Nadejda Loumbeva, FAO, Rome (Italy)
Sophie Treinen, FAO, Rome (Italy)
Marco Piazza, FAO, Rome (Italy)
Stefka Kaloyanova, FAO, Rome (Italy)
Julie MacKenzie, FAO, Rome (Italy)
Stephen Katz, FAO, Rome (Italy)
|The Knowledge Sharing Toolkit: The World Café
Applied Participatory Approach:
Introduction: The Share Fair
During 20-22 January 2009, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) hosted a Knowledge Share Fair. The Share Fair, as it was called, was organized by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in collaboration with Bioversity International, the CGIAR ICT-KM program, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and World Food Programme (WFP), the four other Rome-based organizations working in agricultural development and food security.
The Share Fair showcased examples of good knowledge sharing practices in the field of agricultural development and food security and provided an opportunity for staff to:
- share and learn from each others good practices;
- experiment with tools and methodologies for knowledge sharing;
- create linkages and networks for future collaboration between the organizations; and
- develop ideas to support and enhance knowledge sharing.
It received positive feedback and participants felt they had a better understanding of knowledge sharing, concretely saw the benefits of interaction and dialogue, established new contacts and networks, shared experiences with others and learned a few new things, all the while having fun. The following lessons emerged from the Fair:
- Connecting/Networking is essential for ideas and innovation. There is a need for “informal” spaces to discuss and share knowledge;
- Staff need and want training in tools and methods for knowledge sharing;
- Staff also want to know “who is doing what and where”;
- People want more collaboration and to work in partnerships with other departments, between headquarters and the decentralized offices, with external stakeholders and with each other.
As a follow-up to the Share Fair, and abovementioned demand on training, Knowledge Exchange and Capacity Building Division (KCE) is now providing training support in knowledge sharing tools and methods. The first training on methods was done on World Café.
World Café is a face-to-face participatory method which can be used to share tacit and explicit knowledge within groups and teams. It can help facilitate learning and gain a collective understanding of an issue through conversation. It can be an effective vehicle for opening up discussions that lead to solutions. The purpose of the training sessions on World Café has been to:
- Show participants how World Cafés can be used as part of face-t0-face meetings and workshops to address and solve specific problems and challenges.
- Help participants understand the fundamental principles and benefits of the World Café process.
By the end of the session participants are expected to understand how to run World Cafés and identify opportunities to integrate World Cafés in FAO events.
The methodology used: Participatory Action Planning (Action Learning)
The methodology used for the 2 hour session is as follows:
- Introduction (10 mins)
- Share with the participants background on the training sessions: Link to Share Fair
- Self introduction of Presenters/Participants
- Ask for volunteers to facilitate future sessions of World Café.
- Theory (10 mins)
- Give basics of World Café.
- Give brief introduction of the session. What is expected, what will be shown and what will NOT be covered.
- Hands-on (70 mins)
- Divide into groups and discuss around specific questions. (5 mins)
- Rotate groups after 20 mins, 15 mins, 15 mins.
- Summarise the outputs (15 mins)
- Debrief (20 mins)
- Discuss how the method worked? Didn’t work? How and when could it be applied? Specifically within the context of FAO.
The idea behind this break-down is that participants learn the method by actually participating in a World Café. This learning by doing approach is extremely helpful as it increases the understanding of and modalities for conducting World Cafés. During the two sessions conducted so far the following questions were asked during the hands-on session.
Session 1: Knowledge Sharing at FAO
- Do you think there is a need for knowledge sharing related activities in FAO and why?
- In your experience, what are the key enablers and deterrents to knowledge sharing in FAO? Do you have examples of activities which have worked?
- What knowledge sharing activities should be part of FAO strategy in the next 2 years to help you in your daily work?
Session 2: Greening of FAO
- How "green" do you think FAO's workplace is and where could we improve?
- Do you think there is a need for a FAO "greening" strategy? Who should it involve and what should be its main targets?
- How would you like to be informed and kept up-to-date on ways to "go green"?
Method: Participants felt that World Café method was amazing and refreshing; it gave them an opportunity to be creative. Because these kinds of methods are not so commonly used at FAO, the training sessions in World Café have provided the participants with an opportunity to get to know new colleagues and see that there can be interactive and participatory ways of communication without necessarily having to constantly revert to Power Points! The learning by doing allowed participants to see how these methods can be used in different contexts such as to find solutions, reach a shared understanding of issues common to a team/group/etc. It was observed by many that the World Café method could be used to start a workshop as it allows people to be at ease with one another. It can be seen as a form of speed dating.
Organization: Giving out information about the World Café (1 page flyer) was a good idea. It should/could also be sent out to everyone attending the day before. Having name tags for participants was a good idea.
The major problems and how they were addressed
Participants: The first session was attended by 30 participants, however, for the second session we decided to limit it to 25. (This as per what the room allows us to do, as well as the couple of hours allocated to the training.)
- During the first session, it was felt that theoretic concepts behind World Café (Roles of participants, set-up of the room, etc.) needed to be explained better. This was remedied by giving out a one page handout during the second session.
- We’ve realised that we should perhaps be more clear on the roles of the hosts (i.e., they stick to their tables, at all times ...) and how questions get asked during the debriefing, as well as how time gets allocated to them to quickly summarise the main points. Aiming for more interaction among the participants and not just among the hosts during the ’reporting back’ (i.e., debriefing) phase is good, however keeping in mind the special role of the hosts (see below).
- The questions were sometimes double-barrelled and so maybe not so clear to some participants.
- One suggested alternative to the option of asking 3 questions is as follows:
- make the group circulate and contribute in all tables with the same question. In my case when I summarize what the previous group discussed, I felt that people wanted to contribute and discuss a bit more as it was a new group on the same question; however we couldn't because we suppose to discuss the new question. My previous experience with world café (used another name: panel) were to have three questions in each table and the group circulate and give their contribution, in this way everybody would contribute to the three questions but with different perspective. I would be happy to try this model in a future session of the world café. – Participant from World Café session on Greening of FAO
Application within FAO
- We thought we should spend more time discussing applications of the approach to work people are doing, already, and FAO. This could be done by giving 2 minutes to the participants to discuss the application of the method in the context of FAO.
- At the very beginning, we could see we should state clearly that this training is part of a series of trainings on knowledge sharing methods and tools, rather than just point this out at the end. (We should also be clearer on this as we talk of Share Fair follow-up as this helps participants to make sense of and connect the different initiatives.)
- Concern was raised that there were not enough rooms to facilitate similar events. The lack of infrastructure and resources (facilitators) are an issue at FAO of which we are aware. We hope this issue will soon be addressed as doing this would help FAO being a learning organisation.
- The approach that’s been used during the two training sessions on World Café has been to ask the hosts to summarise the main points. Another option could be to ask everyone to summarise together in order to enable more participation. Then the hosts could be asked whether there's been anything not mentioned in the points that are brought up.
- We’ve observed there was too little time assigned for summary at the end of the two World Café trainings we’ve conduced so far. This should be at least 15 – 20 mins.
Doing only a couple of trainings in World Café has shown a lot of interest in the method and demand for practicing it in order to learn it and about it, then apply it to the work of FAO. This is why we intend to organize more training on World Café in the near future.
- It is important to keep the informality and the spirit of the session.
- In both sessions, we were too many facilitators. Two would have been enough with clear understanding between them of their roles.