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Pro Action Café

Move a project forward or get a project off the ground through the contribution of others to translate intention into action



Developed by Ria Baeck, a member of the Art of Hosting network, the Pro Action Café is a collaborative space that combines personal and collective work. It allows several people in a group to contribute an idea, a theme for reflection or a request for help on one of their projects.

The method is based on the spontaneous contribution of “generous donors” who help project leaders. Assistance can be in the form of new perspectives, suggestions for concrete actions, proposed assistance to achieve these etc.

It’s a great way to move from intention to action!


Time needed: 85 to 130 minutes

Matérials :

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The Pro Action Café combines the World Café and Open Forum concepts. The group dynamic from random mixing of participants is the same. What is different:

Key steps

Agenda planning (10 minutes)

People put forward discussion topics that are related to the overall theme they have been invited to work on.

As a facilitator, you write the topic on a sheet of paper and place it on one of the available tables. The first topics listed are therefore the topics covered and those who put them forward are the project leaders.

What is a topic?
A topic is a theoretically complex problem that to be resolved requires the involvement of expertise, teams and stakeholders outside of the person who raised it.

Set up (5 minutes)

The participants spread out over the various topics and form groups of about five to seven people around the table of the corresponding project leader.

Helping each other session

  1. Question 1: What is the intention behind the project? (20 - 25 minutes)
    The project leaders describe their projects and the contributors at their table ask them questions to help delve deeper into the origin and why of the project.
  2. 1st mixing and transition (10 minutes)
    When the time is up, the participants change tables.

The project leaders who remain in their seats recap the background of their project to the new people and summarise what has been said in relation to question 1.

  1. Question 2: What is missing from my project, my question, my reflection? (20 - 25 minutes)
    The project leader and contributors discuss and ask questions based on this second question.

Here we are referring to resources in terms of time and money but it’s important to ask this question to explore all the project’s blind spots (grants, human resources, knowledge, locations, etc.)

  1. Break (15 minutes)
    The contributors take a break while the project leaders summarise what has been said at their table so far.
  2. 2nd mixing and transition (10 minutes)
    At the end of the break, the contributors join a new table and for five minutes the project leader shares the summary written up during the break.
  3. Question 3: What help do I need? What are the next steps for my project? What did I learn about myself? (20-25 minutes)
    The project leader starts responding and through natural conversation, the contributors help the project leader dig deeper.
  4. All in (10 minutes)
    Lastly, participants come back together and everyone shares what they have learned during this Pro Action Café session:

It is recommended that participants are given 5 minutes of individual reflection before answering.

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