“World Café method with a bottom-up approach to involve key stakeholders in
the development of project pilot technologies and their application.”

Hystore is developing new technologies that can change the way people experience energy consumption at their home. New technologies are not always welcomed though. This is why in Hystore we will run several meetings in our pilot cases following the World Cafè method – a co-creation approach based on informal conversations among people from different backgrounds. It is a tested method around the world that bring people for discussing about technologies or social problems in general, and to gain social acceptance. Read how it works what are its principles.

We will present the World Cafè method during the webinar: “Stakeholder Engagement and Market

You are welcome to register HERE:


The new but always effective power of conversation and confrontation: the co-creation methodology

Co-creation is a widely used approach in business and public planning. Some companies such as IKEA, Heineken, Lego and Coca Cola use co-creation methods to develop their products and customer experiences. But also in research projects. Very interesting experiences have been made in this respect in some European projects: GoNano, Greco, S3C. In these projects, the co-creation method was used to address issues related to the development and application of nanotechnologies, to analyse the factors favouring or hindering the deployment of photovoltaics, to involve people in the uptake of smart energy solutions.

In research and innovation, co-creation can be used to ‘future-proof’ concepts, ideas, and products. For example, it can help to understand future contexts of use and their social practices, needs and values that may hinder the functionality of a new technological application. Furthermore possible uneven social impacts; or unforeseen safety or environmental impacts.

Working co-creatively with societal stakeholders and citizens at an early stage in a research or innovation setting can help anticipate challenges, shortcomings, or obstacles. It helps to design solutions that better meet the expectations and needs of society and future users. 

Furthermore, it would be possible to benefit from their ideas, suggestions, observations, but also from their creativity, which could, on the one hand, bring to shed light on aspects and issues that have not emerged in normal research activities, and, on the other hand, stimulate solutions that have not yet been considered by researchers or designers.

The World Cafè method and the seven principles

The World Café is a method you can use in a co-creation process. It is an easy to use, flexible and adaptable method for creating a collaborative dialogue and context. Its seven principles will guide and support everyone is willing to engage with this approach. The seven principles are:

1) Set the Context
2) Create Hospitable Space
3) Explore Questions that Matter
4) Encourage Everyone’s Contribution
5) Connect Diverse Perspectives
6) Listen Together for Patterns & Insights
7) Share Collective Discoveries

Set the context: To know what your goals and reasons are to have the meeting is first and most important aspect to define. By having your scopes well clear in mind, you can better choose participants and stakeholders to engage and best questions to drive people to give you fruitful responses.

Hospital space: never underestimate the environment. People who feel comfortable about where they are engage more and they are willing to do their best.

Questions that matter: Good questions will make the success of your meeting. Find questions that are relevant to the real-life concerns of the group. Depending on the goals, your Café may explore a single question or use a progressively deeper line of inquiry through several conversational rounds.

Encourage participations: in every group there will be someone who want to participate but they don’t feel secure enough to speak out. Be an encouraging figure with them and be able to let everyone speak their minds, always respecting their privacy and personality.

Connect Diverse Perspectives: how? Make them move and swipe tables! By having to chat with different people, participants will be stimulated by different perspectives and give you always new ideas.

Share Collective Discoveries: this is the final step of the Café, often called the ‘harvest’. This is the moment where ideas and questions emerged in the small groups are shared and discussed in a kind of general assembly involving all participants.

Tips to a great World Cafè meeting

Besides these principles, here are some tips to make your Cafè an insightful experience for your and your participants:

• Name your Café according to your scope. For example: Knowledge Café; Strategy Café; Discovery Café, etc.
• Each table should have 5 people max and consider 12 or 15 people in total for each session.
• Set up progressive (at least three) rounds of conversation, approximately 20 minutes each.
• Provide participants with some papers on the tables for notes and write down ideas
• Choose a ‘table host’: someone who remains at the same table on the next turn, while the rest act as ‘travellers’ or ‘messengers of meaning’.
• Consider if the same question can be addressed in one or more rounds of the conversation, or if different questions can be asked in each round to build on and deepen the exploration.

Word Cafè for the Hystore Project

In Hystore we are developing innovative technologies that can support people every day’s lives and their experience with energy consumptions. Implementing new technologies can be a challenge and new technologies can lack of social acceptance because too difficult to use, people are not fully prepared to change, or they don’t understand immediately the benefit of these technologies.

To overcome these challenges, we planned some meeting adopting the World Cafè methodologies in the cities selected as our pilot sites of the project.

Word Cafè expert in Hystore.

Agatino Nicita is the main expert within the project to run the World Cafè method. Read what interesting him the most about this method in his interview for the Hystore Project!

References: The World Café Community Foundation (2015). “A Quick Reference Guidefor Hosting World Café”, www.theworldcafe.com Frederick Steier, Juanita Brown a n d Flavio Mesquitada Silva (2015) “The World Café in Action esearch Settings” BK-SAGE-BRADBURY-150096-Chp20.