This morning we hosted a Lean Coffee session. It was my first time hosting a virtual lean coffee. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with others and learning from each other. My first experience of a lean coffee was with Karen and Sam many years ago, I really enjoyed the loose structure and got so much of value that it soon became one of my favourite facilitation techniques.

Today’s session was awesome, we were so excited to have people from around the world join in. We had Karen in Auckland, New Zealand, Justin and Gitte in Stockholm, Sweden, Rebecca in Cape Town and Yusuf, Eloise and Jean in Johannesburg. We used Zoom to connect virtually and Trello as a kanban board. Here is a link to the topics discussed.

We had some fun sharing our work space as we’re all home due to COVID19. We discussed how we’re building new habits and maintaining good habits during the lockdown. We talked about self care, practicing journalling, meditation, spoiling ourselves with a long bubble bath. We also shared books that we’re reading and why. Karen has just read Atomic Habits and Invisible Women. Justin shared a bit about Polarity Management and Skilled Facilitation. Before we knew it the hour was up. It was such a lovely time of connection that we decided to repeat this every 2 weeks. Hope you can join us 🙂

If you’re planning a lean coffee soon, here is a tip for you:

I tested a few tools, Trello was easy for me to use as a virtual board. There is an awesome Leaner Coffee power up which implements:

  • voting capabilities (similar to the official Voting Power-Up)
    • click to vote (duh!)
    • displaying list of voters
    • sorting a list by number of votes
    • (Lean Coffee bonus!) ensuring people can only vote for as many cards as the rules of multivoting (aka N/3 voting) allow
  • discussion management
    • start/pause/end a timer for a discussion about a card
    • notifications (visual + audio) when a discussion timer elapses (visible only to the initiator)
  • card badges and card detail badges, displaying:
    • number of votes / list of voters
    • elapsed time for a discussion
  • card back sections, displaying:
    • discussion status (when ongoing)
    • a simple UI to vote on a discussion, to decide whether to switch topic or keep going

I struggled with affinity grouping. We placed cards together after voting, when I sorted the cards they were no longer together so we lots the groupings. It would have been easier to delete cards that had the similar topic, then vote and sort.

It took courage to facilitate a remote lean coffee but support of the group and lessons learned outweighed the scariness. This reminded me of Gitte’s talk at a Scrum Gathering in 2016 I think where she spoke of vulnerability and being true to yourself. I’m so thankful I got to connect with her again, and get out of my comfort zone and share what I love. I hope you will also try a virtual Lean Coffee or join us in our next one.