Lean Coffee is a great facilitation technique to discuss any topic. Lean refers to the technique and not about what you must discuss during the group session.

Why Lean Coffee?

Did you ever have someone monopolize a conversation? Did you ever see someone that had a lot to say but didn’t speak up? Lean coffee is meant to give quiet folk an opportunity to get their 2 cents (err… 8 minutes) in. If you hate the conversation, don’t worry… it won’t take the whole meeting! I find I learn more from topics other people bring to the table than the ones I think I want to talk about. This is a good technique for problem solving and collaboration. I suggest people use this technique at work and in the community!


What you need:

  • sharpies
  • sticky notes
  • table & chairs
  • and people of course!

What you do:

  1. Decide on a theme for discussions
  2. Create name tags with stickies
  3. Create a kanban board on the table with 3 columns – To Do, Doing & Done (or any variation thereof)
  4. All participants write topics on stickies and place them on the table
  5. Everybody has 2 votes and can mark the stickies with a dot to vote. You can use both votes on one sticky or vote on 2 separate ones.
  6. Stack rank the discussion backlog (the To Do column) based on the order of most popular topics
  7. Start a timer for 8 minutes and begin the first topic.
  8. When the timer goes off, everyone does hand signals (thumb up, down or sideways) to denote desire to continue the current topic. If the majority wants to continue, start the timer for 4 minutes and continue.
  9. Repeat #8, but continue for 2 minutes. After this, topic is over.
  10. Move onto the next topic.
  11. Wrap up with a round robin of takeaways (taking a pass is an option too)

Read more

Check out http://leancoffee.org