The word lean is associated with eliminating waste.
Here is the story behind the origin of Lean Coffee:
“Lean Coffee started in Seattle in 2009. Jim Benson and Jeremy Lightsmith wanted to start a group that would discuss Lean techniques in knowledge work – but didn’t want to start a whole new cumbersome organization with steering committees, speakers, and such. They wanted a group that did not rely on anything other than people showing up and wanting to learn or create.
Now, Seattle Lean Coffee happens every week, is very popular, and requires only that someone who has been there before shows up – and even then it’s just so they know where we stash the post-it notes.”
A lean meeting format eliminates all that is unnecessary in a traditional meeting. In addition it adds a few principles of its own.
There are several challenges that come up with traditional retrospective meetings.
One of the key features of a lean meeting is that it is agendaless. You must be wondering how is that even possible. Let us clarify. When we say that a lean meeting is agendaless it does not mean that the meeting doesn’t have a structure. The agenda of a Lean Meeting is democratically selected at the beginning of the meeting by all participants.
Let’s look at the key steps in organizing and running a Lean Coffee Retrospective Meeting:
The team comes up with ideas for discussion in the meeting. Everyone puts up things that they’d like to take forward. This way everyone has a voice and forum to surface things that matter to them
You might not have the time to discuss all ideas in the meeting. Everyone votes on what they think should be part of the agenda. The items with the highest votes are prioritized for discussion first.
The team talks about the items in the agenda that have been democratically selected. Everyone gets a chance to voice their opinion.
Takeaways and action items are listed here to make progress before the next session.
You can also start your Lean Retrospective Meeting with icebreaker questions. It is especially useful if the team is meeting for the first few times or there are a lot of new faces in the meeting. Here are some examples of icebreaker questions for an agile retrospective meeting.