How to have knowledge sessions that everyone in the group is really interested in – For those of us who struggle to make collaborative yet effective meetings, Lean Coffee comes highly recommended!

My last lean coffee experience was in the Kanban Lean meetup organized by Jonathan Hansen at the Spotify office in Manhattan. We were a group of 16 agile enthusiasts of diverse nature including experienced agile coaches, UX designers, Architects, product VPs and business owners. The Lean Coffee is moderated and goes like this:

Step 1: Make a personal Kanban board where you have 3 sections “To discuss, Discussing, Discussed”

Step 2:  Everybody is given post-its and 3 minutes to write down as many topics as they want for discussion – Here we were given an incentive to win 4 new agile books if your topic gets selected 😉

Step 3: Each post-it is read out by the moderator and the person who wrote it gets few seconds to explain the context.

Step 4: Voting- Every person gets 2 to 3 votes which they can use to put ‘dots’ on the subject they like. You can choose to put dots in various post-its or all dots in a single post-it. The post-its with maximum dots get selected for discussion and they are posted under “To discuss” in the Kanban board ( Yours truly got 3 out of 6 selected topics, and won a great book “UX for Lean start-ups “

Step 5: The moderator sets the timer for 5 minutes and each topic is called up and goes to the board under”discussing”. There is group discussion on that topic and when timer rings, everybody has to give an thumbs-up (continue with same topic), thumbs-down (next topic) or thumb-sideways (neutral). Based on majority opinion, the post-it moves to “Discussed”

 Lean Coffee

We spent 10 minutes in steps 1 to 4 and discussed 6 topics in 35 minutes and it was awesome! Some of the interesting topics discussed were:

  • Lean UX
  • Multitasking in Kanban teams
  • Servant leadership
  • How to introduce a new swim lane

The Lean coffee official website defines it as:

“Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting. Participants gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are directed and productive because the agenda for the meeting was democratically generated.”

I would call it “short and sweet; awesome discussion technique”

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