Lean Coffee cheat sheet – Kill those endless meetings

I worked over 10 years as Agile Coach. Usually larger organisations hire Agile Coaches. And usually larger organisations have a tendency to organise meetings that don’t work. Many people in the room, no clear purpose and no clear agenda.

If this sounds all too familiar, try the Lean Coffee format. I find it super useful. Especially for the recurring meetings with larger groups it prevents wasting time and unnecessary discussion. Again and again. And, very important, I find that these meetings give energy rather than drain you out.

How does it work?

The lean coffee format is an organic organised meeting with lean time keeping. In short: the meeting organiser just sets a topic beforehand.

  1. When the meeting starts, attendants set the agenda. They do so by posting possible topics on Post-ITs on the wall. Every topic should be on a single Post-IT.
  2. Once possible topics are identified the group determines the most important topics by dot-voting.
  3. The group starts discussing the highest priority item. The facilitator keeps time, and starts with 5 minutes. Then he invites the author of the Post-IT to step forward and kick off the discussion.
  4. Now the interesting bit: after 5 minutes the group is consulted: Is this topic worth spending more time on? With gestures the attendants sign “Yes, 5 more minutes please” or “Not really, but we need 2 more minutes to wrap up” or “No, let’s stop it now”. And this repeats as long as the group thinks the topic is interesting.
  5. Once a topic is closed, the conclusion is noted and the next topic is opened. And so on…. until either the topics or the time box of the meeting runs out.

Cheat Sheet

Lean Coffees are great. Although the concept is simple, they are a bit difficult to explain. And it can be hard to do it first time right. So I created this cheat sheet.

Hope it helps! I appreciate if you let me know if it worked for you.

What’s next

Once you get the hang of it, you can use the elements like keeping time by group voting, consult the group for topics, etc. for other activities just as well.

Give some claps if you like this, and please share your findings with the Lean Coffee format. ☕️

PS: as some of you requested, you can download a high res PDF version for printing: 1SPRINT – lean coffee cheatsheet