Saturday, September 18, 2010

When We Think We Know

Here's the context:  A work-related group I participate in (committee type) is planning to organize a World Cafe.  I'm a participant with a limited role, no decisional power, advisory power at best.  I'm sensing from the conversation that few people in the room have direct, first hand experience with a World Cafe.  I have very limited first hand experience myself, perhaps just enough to know we (as a group) don't know enough.  I've attended one such event and didn't really get much value out of it.  Yet it appears that I've read so much about World Cafes (out of personal interest) that I feel as if I know more than other folks around the table.

It's not clear that I really do but let's focus for a second on HOW I know what I know about World Cafes.
  • I haven't learned much from my limited direct experience with a World Cafe (other than the fact that a first experience with a World Cafe isn't necessarily a very positive one)
  • Until last week I didn't own any book or manual about how to handle World Cafes
  • I've probably collected some resources about World Cafes when I was focusing my attention on learning through conversations
  • I've probably followed a few blogs from people who talk about World Cafes
  • I've been particularly interested in the use of graphic facilitation in the context of World Cafes
  • I had a few conversations about World Cafes with individuals who didn't necessarily have much more experience with World Cafes than I did. 
The result is that through my PLE (yes, I had to find a way to connect this to PLENK2010), I may have developed a sense of "knowing" what a World Cafe is all about, when in fact, it's quite superficial knowledge and until I'm more deeply engaged in participating in and organizing World Cafes, I should be careful not to claim that I know much about them.

Somehow connected to... Where Your Brain Figures out What it Doesn't Know (NPR)... which also reminded me of Teaching Smart People How to Learn (HBR).
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