Lean Coffee.

This short insight is from of our Methods series: A discussion of useful working practices and ideas for better ideation and execution.  We discuss what each method is, why they are useful, and how to utilize them.


An efficient agenda-less meeting format.


All attendees gain equal opportunity to produce ideas and give input on the importance of agenda topics. This allows all attendees to essentially become co-owners/responsible for the subject matter of the agenda.


  1. Firstly, give all participants two minutes to write down discussion ideas on sticky notes. There should only be one idea per sticky note.
  2. These notes are then reviewed collectively, and dot voting is used to determine a collective consensus on which topics are most interesting/important to the group.
  3. Allot time per topic. As a general rule, you can streamline each topic to a two minute introduction to kick the idea off.
  4. Starting with the topic that got most votes, begin the meeting discussion on this idea. The person that presented the idea could choose to lead if advantageous for productive discussion.
  5. At the end of the allotted time, conduct a simple vote to decide whether to continue discussing the current topic, or to move on.  This could be done by a show of hands, or a thumbs up/thumbs down system.
  6. Once all important topics have been discussed, elicit any key take-aways or actionable points from the group.

Further Discussion.

Utilizing a Kanban board approach aids the productivity of this exercise. The discussion topics can be sorted into four columns:

  1. To discuss. This is where all topics deemed of interest (via dot voting) will be placed.
  2. In discussion. When a new topic begins, the corresponding topic sticky note should be placed here to keep everyone focused on the discussion at hand.
  3. Done. After discussion ends, the topic is then moved to this column, and a new topic is placed in discussion.
  4. Action points. If any actionable tasks are decided upon and/or assigned to a team member, these should be noted on a new sticky note and placed in column 4. This will provide a clear outcomes list which can be photographed for reference.

For virtual Lean Coffee meetings, a chairperson could simply use a team management software (we use, or Miro.