The Lean Coffee Sprint Retrospective How-To Guide!
Your sprint retros don't have to be boring, blame-laden or unbearable!
Of course, you could do everything in your power to make your sprint retros fun, cool, and a little bit different to the norm...but, unless you know how to run a perfect and engaging retro from start to finish, all of your hard work and prep might fall flat on its face.
So, without further ado, if you like your retros lean, not-mean but perfectly formed, might we suggest you try our house blend: the Lean Coffee Retro!
The Idea Behind the Lean Coffee Retro: A Lean Explainer
If you're struggling to work out how ‘lean’, ‘coffee’ and ‘retro’ fit together, then we totally get you.
Take your ‘standard’ sprint retro (side point: your sprint retros don't have to be standard in any way, shape or form - here’s how getting it right from the off will improve your devs’ performance all across the board).
We’re betting that it’s usually pretty agenda-heavy, with a lot of discussion and trying to get to the bottom of what worked, what didn't, and what can be improved on for next time.
But...what if there was the possibility of having a fluid, agenda-less meeting that didn’t have the opportunity to become bloated or out of hand in any way?
Enter: the Lean Coffee retro.
Started by two entrepreneurs in Seattle, the Lean Coffee idea is, by its very nature, agenda-less.
Sounds like a potential disaster in the making for your sprint retro? Fear-not. Here’s everything you need to know about how to run your own Lean Coffee retro - espresso (or your choice of beverage) optional but advised!
How to Run A Lean Coffee Retro
A further word of explanation here: although the Lean Coffee retros starts out as agenda-less, that doesn’t mean it continues as agenda-less!
As the Lean Coffee sprint progresses, participants get to vote on the issues they feel are the most pressing to discuss...and this sets the agenda.
Here’s how you can easily run your own Lean Coffee retro - no planning or preparation necessary (other than having a whiteboard and post-it notes at the ready)!
- Set up a Kanban. This can be as simple as writing on a whiteboard, or putting some post-it notes somewhere. Our recommended headings are ‘To Discuss’, ‘Discussing’ and ‘Discussed’.
- Give everyone a set of post-it notes and a pen. Participants fill out one issue or idea per post-it note, and add it to the ‘To Discuss’ column. You're looking for as many post-it notes as possible.
- Once all ideas (or as many as you deem necessary) have been committed to post-it notes and stuck under the ‘To Discuss’ column, you can summarize what has been added. You might notice running themes, or not.
- If you do notice a running theme, we’d recommend starting by recommending this issue to discuss - it's clearly a pressing issue if it's been brought up by multiple participants!
- It's time to vote on what needs to be discussed. Every participant has two votes - they can use these to vote either twice on the same topic, or on two different topics. You can ask for a show of hands, or follow the dot voting system.
- Count up the votes: these are the topics you'll be discussing during the sprint retrospective.
The Benefits of the Lean Coffee Retro...To Put it Lean-ly
Since planning your sprint retro shouldn't take all your energy, it's pretty clear what the biggest benefit of the Lean Coffee retro is: that it's quick, easy to set up and you barely need any prep (other than some post-it notes and pens!).
Otherwise, there are loads of other benefits to this type of sprint retro format you might not have thought of -
- It’s democratic: not only do the participants get to feel like they’re guiding the conversation, but they get to raise the issues that are truly important to them.
- It's a great signpost of what’s really happening: if certain issues keep cropping up, or come up very strongly, you can bet your bottom dollar that there’s something deeper going on that you might have considered.
- It's simple, lightweight, but highly effective. It can be held ‘on the fly’, or even with distributed or remote teams.
Go Lean, GoRetro
For the best of both worlds, what more could you need than quick, simple scrum retrospectives, (Espresso or beverage of your choice still optional)?
GoRetro is a forever-free tool designed with love by sprint participants to make sure your retro is run as productively, quickly, and painlessly as possible.
It's already widely used by luminaries such as Crunchbase, Netflix, Sonos and more. So what's stopping you?