Lean Coffee is a meeting without a pre-set agenda, horror! Well, that's only partly true. The first agenda item is to create the agenda, then follow a system of group prioritizing what to talk about by voting on the agenda items. The top voted item goes first!
This is a great format for group meetings, and gets everyone more involved in the topics involved than a traditional style of meeting, where one person typically sets the agenda before the meeting.
How to run a Lean Coffee session?
- Select a theme for the meeting and write it at the top of the board - this is optional.
- Have everyone add sticky notes with ideas to the topics section. There is no limit on the number of sticky notes each. (10 minutes)
- Have participants introduce each sticky note, a sentence or two about each (10-15 minutes).
- Hold a voting round with three votes per person – you decide (5 minutes).
- Rank the more popular topics higher in the “To Discuss” column. This is your meeting agenda.
- Move the top item into the middle "Discussing" column and set the timer for five minutes — or whatever length the group determines is reasonable. This is the initial timebox for discussion.
- When the time limit is reached, ask participants if there’s interest in continuing the discussion. If so, set the timer for a shorter duration and continue discussing. You can repeat this step if the group want to keep discussing.
- When the discussion is finished, move its card to the right “Discussed” column. Bring the next highest card over from “To Discuss” into “Discussing” and repeat the process.
- When all topics are discussed or you are running out of time, elicit action items from the group to wrap up the session.
Tips on running Lean Coffee
- We've found that this format does benefit from having a trained facilitator for the first session, but after that most teams can run it by themselves.
- Make sure you are strict with the timer!