Lean Coffee at The Rise Vision Quarterly Review

October 16, 2015

Every quarter we have a review. Twice a year we do the review virtually, the other two times we actually get together. We don't meet physically every quarter because many people come from all over the world.

This year we decided to use Lean Coffee to drive our meeting, and I'm not talking about a diet coffee beverage.

Rise Vision quarterly review

What is Lean Coffee?

“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. There are currently dozens of Lean Coffees happening world-wide, including Seattle, San Francisco, Stockholm, Toronto, Boulder, New York City, and more.” - leancoffee.org

Lean Coffee

Lean Coffee at Rise Vision

Rise Vision is broken up into multiple teams. There is Delivery, Marketing, Apps, Content, Solutions, Store and Community Success. The problem we have encountered in previous reviews is that you could spend a day doing goal review and discussion for each team. And on top of that all that you have to go through the problems and opportunities. This quarter to make sure everything got covered we decided to use Lean Coffee.

What you need to get started:

  • Post it notes
  • Whiteboard, or large sheets of paper
  • Sharpies

How Lean Coffee is supposed to work:

  1. Set up a Kanban Board on the wall with columns for Discuss, Discussion and Discussed.
  2. Everyone takes their Post It's and adds up to 3 Post It's to the Discuss column with a short description on each. Then in one to two sentences each person introduces their point and groups the similar Post It 's together.
  3. Everyone now has 2 votes. You vote by making a mark on the Post It. You only get 2 votes so vote for the card or cards you think are most important.
  4. Discussion time. Start with the Post It's that have the most votes and work your way down as time allows.

Things don’t always go according to plan though.. This is how it actually worked.

  1. Set up a board on the wall for each team as well as problems, opportunities, KPI’s and open talk.
  2. Everyone takes their Post It's and adds up to 3 Post It's to the Discuss column with a short description on each. Then in one to two sentences each person introduces their point and groups the similar Post It 's together. Once everyone has added their notes the product owner groups all the similar points and reads them out.
  3. Everyone now has 2 votes. You vote by making a mark on the Post It. You only get 2 votes so vote for the card or cards you think are most important.
  4. Spend a little too much time discussing.
  5. The product owner scribbles notes on the board.

Lean Coffee boards at Rise Vision We can’t give away all our secrets, so the notes have been blurred.

What We Learned

It’s difficult to get a lot done in one day, especially when it requires 8 hours of talking and thinking. Next time we’re going to spend two days instead of one doing the review. We found it was difficult to thoroughly cover all of the topics in such a short time. We would also start the day with Problems, Opportunities, 10X Opportunities then move through Teams, KPI’s and Open Discussion.

We found Lean Coffee was a great way to run a big meeting or review. Often in meetings there will be a few dominant voices which can lead to only certain agendas being discussed. By using Lean Coffee everyone has an opportunity to submit ideas. And by voting you are able to sort out what is important and what is not.

If you try this at your next meeting let us know what worked for you and what didn’t.