Description of Lean Coffee
Lean Coffee is a facilitation format I use frequently. Lean Coffee is both easy to follow and effective at facilitating learning and collaboration through group discussions. It is a structured, but agenda-less meeting format. The participants come together, build an agenda, and start talking. The conversations are directed and productive because they are strictly time-boxed and the agenda for the meeting is democratically generated. Most successful Lean Coffee groups maintain a reliable cadence, meeting at the same time and place each week or two.
Most successful Lean Coffee groups maintain a reliable cadence, meeting at the same time and place each week or two.
Rules of Lean Coffee
- Setup a Personal Kanban Board with columns labelled as "To Discuss", "Discussing", and "Discussed/Completed". For a large group use a wall or whiteboard; for small, a group lay it out on the table.
- Set a total time-frame of 1 hour for the complete session and 8 min for each topic to be discussed.
- Each participant writes her topics on a sticky note (one per note).
- Participants put the sticky notes in the "To Discuss" column on the board.
- The facilitator supports dot voting on the topics and put them in priority order based on the results of the vote.
- The facilitator starts discussing the first topic with a break point after 8 minutes.
- After 8 minutes the participants determine with Thumb Voting if the group wants to continue or end the discussion:
- Continue discussing for 5 min if the group votes to continue.
- Continue discussing for 2 min if there is a tie between the yes and no votes.
- Move on to the next topic if the vote is to end the discussion.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the 1-hour time-box is reached.
- Move every topic in the discussion from "To Discuss" to the column "Discussing". Move the topic after the discussion to "Discussed/Completed".
- Hold a short retrospective at the end of the session to elicit main key takeaways and/or action items from the group. This is usually important if you’re using the meeting to drive decisions or create work. Take photos of the board or any artefacts (mind maps, etc.).
When to use Lean Coffee
Use this format
- As a medium for retrospectives and other brainstorming meetings,
- Information sharing,
- Relationship building,
- Reflection exploration,
- Action planning.
- Introduces the participants to the process.
- Guides participants through decisions if to continue or drop discussed topics.
- Time-boxes the discussion.
- Moderates and resolves conflicts if needed.
- Supports the participants in resolving how to proceed if the "To Discuss" column is not empty when the session is over.
- Jason Little: Running a Virtual Lean Coffee.
- Agile Coffee: What is Lean Coffee.
- Virtual Lean Coffee using Lean Coffee Table Online Tool
- Lean Coffee, official website: http://www.leancoffee.org/