Daily Stand Up in Lean Coffee Style

At the Kanban Leadership Retreat 2013 I overheard Hakan Forss mention that he wanted to talk about a different structure for daily meetings or to have a process description for them (I don’t remember exactly what he said and what his intentions were), and I started to think: what if we used the lean coffee style for daily meetings? We didn’t follow up on my idea besides exchanging a couple of tweets, so here is roughly how I imagine a daily meeting in lean coffee style.

The lean coffee is very simple and efficient. It starts with the idea collection part where the group members put down ideas on post-it notes (one idea per post-it and everyone is working alone), each member shortly pitches their own topic, and finally they dot vote in order to have a prioritised queue of topics. Then they put all the notes on a personal kanban board like the one on the right with a WIP limit of 1 (image source). When it is ready, they start talking about the first item for 8 or 10 minutes depending on their availability and preference. When the time is up, they vote by raising their hands if they want to continue the discussion or not. If the majority of the votes is yes, they have 4 or 5 minutes to continue the discussion. If it is no, they pick the next item and start talking about it. They again have 4 or 5 minutes to discuss until the next voting. Of course, the group can spend as many time slots (with the length of 4 or 5 minutes) as they want on a single item, while the majority votes for it. Mind that the largest time slot is available only once and for the first topic, and the rest of the time slots have the same size (usually half of the largest slot). If the group thinks that they’ve talked enough about a topic, they can stop in the middle of the slot and move to the next topic.

A usual daily meeting cannot really be longer than 15 minutes so the team must be quick on the topic collection and voting, and they cannot really have time slots longer than 2 minutes. So the idea is that the team quickly collects the work items and additional topics and issues, questions, announcements etc., puts them on a separate board (let’s call it lean coffee board) and quickly does the dot voting. They can skip the pitching part unless there is a brand new issue only a few know about. Let’s say they have 4 minutes to do the collecting, voting and ordering phase. Then they use the remaining 11 minutes for discussions following the rules I described above by having 3 minutes for the first time slot and 2 for the rest.

I’ll try to find a team where I can try this idea out, but in the meantime you can also give it a try and share your experiences in the comments.

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