The Lean Coffee Retrospective – Including direct access

The Lean Coffee Retrospective: A retrospective as fast and efficient as a good espresso. All jokes aside, of course you don't need coffee for this retro method. So what is this retrospective about and why Lean Coffee?


What is a Lean Coffee Retrospective?

The name is a combination of the concept of "lean thinking" and the informal "coffee meeting". In a nutshell, it is about coming together in a relaxed, enjoyable setting and exchanging and discussing ideas in a short and effective "lean" way. 


Advantages of the Lean Coffee Retrospective

  1. Together you find out your most important focus topics out of here
  2. Unstructured meetings get structure
  3. Topics are discussed effectively in a short time
  4. The whole team is actively involved
  5. You only need minimal preparation time


How does the Lean Coffee Retrospective work?

Step 1: Gather topics

The special thing about the Lean Coffee Retrospective is that there are no predefined topics or specific questions. All participants have the opportunity to write down important topics. 

Step 2: Present the topics

The second step is to briefly present the topics. Imagine that you are really only pitching the topic to the others for the time of a quick espresso. The idea is not to go into depth, but mainly to get a first overview. Feel free to set a timer for this step (max. 2 minutes per person).

In order not to lose track of what you have already discussed, you can, for example, create columns "to do", "doing" and "done". This is very easy to do on a whiteboard or in retrotools such as Echometer

Step 3: Group

You may have found thematic crossovers in the second step of the Lean Coffee retrospective. Group the corresponding topics and find a common heading. This will not only simplify the next step, but you will also see at a glance what your focus topics were.

Step 4: Vote

Now everyone can get active again. In this step, the most important topics are highlighted once again. For this, all participants of the Lean Coffee Retrospective receive a certain number of points. These points are to be used to vote for the topics (or groups of topics) that are considered to be particularly important. If you are working with a flip chart, you can use sticky dots for example. With retrospective tools such as Echometer, you also have virtual points for voting and can even do this simply via mobile phone. In addition, the most voted topics are visually highlighted. 

Step 5: Determine action items

In the last step of the Lean Coffee Retrospective, you have the opportunity to define action items to be implemented in the next sprint, for example. Maybe you came up with some action items while discussing the topics, which you can easily write down. If it is a bit trickier to define a good action item , you can use one of our whiteboard templates to define action items .


Lean Coffee Retrospective: Is it that simple?

Yes. I even claim that you can start spontaneously, without preparation. So grab a coffee and let's go

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