March is normally a very busy month for me, especially with it being International Women's Month (as declared by Manchester) with International Women's Day being 8th of March. One of the earliest things I did this March was to take part in a Café Conversation organised by Common Purpose. Everyone likes to have a chat over a cup of tea or coffee. This is what the café conversation is. It is based on the methodology called World Café methodology and is a simple, effective, and flexible format for hosting large group dialogue. World Café can be modified to meet a wide variety of needs. Specifics of context, numbers, purpose, location, and other circumstances are factored into each event’s unique invitation, design, and question choice, but the following five components comprise the basic model: 1) Setting: Create a “special” environment, most often modelled after a café, i.e. small round tables covered with a checkered or white linen tablecloth, butcher block paper, coloured pens, a vase of flowers, and optional “talking stick” item. There should be 4 to 6 chairs at each table (optimally) – and no more than 8. 2) Welcome and Introduction: The host begins with a warm welcome and an introduction to the World Café process, setting the context, sharing the Cafe Etiquette, and putting participants at ease. 3) Small Group Rounds: The process begins with the first of three or more twenty minute rounds of conversation for the small group seated around a table. At the end of the twenty minutes, each member of the group moves to a different new table. They may or may not choose to leave one person as the “table host” for the next round, who welcomes the next group and briefly fills them in on what happened in the previous round. 4) Questions: each round is prefaced with a question specially crafted for the specific context and desired purpose of the World Café. The same questions can be used for more than one round, or they can be built upon each other to focus the conversation or guide its direction. 5) Harvest: After the small groups (and/or in between rounds, as needed), individuals are invited to share insights or other results from their conversations with the rest of the large group. During the Common Purpose Café Conversation the questions posed to me were: 1) As a leader, how did you get to change the minds of people with regards to gun crime? 2) What did you find difficult being a leader? 3) Where did you get support? 4) How did you know you were making a difference? 5) How do you lead when it is your own organisation, and not a hierarchy? 6) How did you deal with family? All very relevant questions to Leadership. Answers were given and such will be in another later blog.