Lean Coffee
Written by Josh O'Riordan
Mar 24, 2015

Lean Coffee with The Happy Startup

Armed with nothing but a selection of multi-coloured post-it notes, we sent Josh to explore ‘The Happy Startup School’.

The Happy Startup School

Our Lean Coffee experience was hosted by 'The Happy Startup School'. They share our passion for startups and entrepreneurship. I

n particular they pride themselves in being for the new breed of entrepreneur that wants to realise their dreams and do things differently.

They put it like this: “We're all about startups that put people first and measure success in happiness, as well as profits. We believe happy teams, storytelling and customer experience are key to delivering on vision.” “The future belongs to organisations that live their values, love their customers, have a clear purpose and focus on a strong company culture.”

We heartily agree, so we were thrilled to take part in a lean coffee meeting hosted by them.

Lean Coffee

Lean Coffee is a structured but agenda-less meeting (with coffee, of course). Anyone who has come across 'The Lean Startup' book will be familiar with many of the principles.

Put simply, the concept works as follows: participants gather, democratically choose the topic of discussion by vote and then get talking.

"The lean coffee model is simple but surprisingly effective."

So what did we learn?

Firstly, it's a great technique for facilitating meetings.

The lean coffee model is simple but surprisingly effective. It works (at least on this occasion) as follows:

  • We broke into 3 groups of 8 people

  • We then recieved 3 post-it notes each

  • On those post-it notes we wrote 3 topics we wanted to discuss (on anything loosely to do with business)

  • The group then ‘up-vote’ those topics by placing the post-it notes on a wall and each placing a tick on the 3 that we want to discuss

  • We then add the highest voted topics to a Kanban board of ‘To Discuss’, ‘Discussing’ and ‘Discussed’

  • With our topics decided - off we go, discussing the topics with an 8 minute time slot for each one

Secondly, meeting with new people to discuss ideas is fun.

You’d be surprised how much you learn from a 90 minute session of discussing business topics with a bunch of people that; a) you previously did not know and b) previously knew nothing about you.

At Brightec we work hard to cultivate a transparent company culture. We invite anyone to pitch new ideas and challenge old ones in a healthy way. 

However, we recognise that no matter how many of us there are, we won’t have all of the answers and we certainly can’t rely on our opinions not being influenced by the culture and environment around us. 

So, hearing other peoples views and ideas is incredibly helpful, even if sometimes it simply helps to reinforce or affirm our own existing opinions.

Thirdly, everyone struggles with the same issues

A couple of popular topics from our chats were around organising time and balancing work/life/family. 

It’s surely pretty common to look at other people's success stories and start to imagine that it is just you who can’t quite get it right. 

It was refreshing to listen to other peoples thoughts around the subject. Some valuable tips included; identifying different spaces for different tasks and also prioritising ‘away from desk’ time equally with ‘at desk’ time.

A great way to start a Friday!

"It’s surely pretty common to look at other people's success stories and start to imagine that it is just you who can’t quite get it right."