Lean Management, Lean Startups, Lean Production…Lean Coffee. Do you have any idea what Lean Coffee stands for? Probably yes. However, to many Russians it doesn’t ring a bell. That’s why we decided to enlighten the people and on November 22, 2015 conducted the first Lean Coffee in Saratov, Russia.
Lean Coffee is a structured, but agenda-less meeting, where people gather, build an agenda, and begin talking. Conversations are directed and productive because the agenda for the meeting is democratically generated. There are currently dozens of Lean Coffees happening world-wide, including Seattle, San Francisco, Stockholm, Toronto, Boulder, New York City, and more. Yet while Lean Coffee got popular all over the world thanks to Jim Benson and Jeremy Lightsmith, it’s not yet widely known in Russia.
We heard about Lean Coffee for the first time when we started developing Kanbanchi – our app for kanban project management. Diving deeper into kanban methodology and lean we encountered Jim Benson’s blog and there learnt about Lean Coffee. Our team decided to bring the Lean Coffee initiative to Saratov, introduce people to the format and motivate specialists to share experience and learn from each other.
We decided to start spreading the word about Lean Coffee in IT/ Startups/ Digital community as developing, marketing and managing a startup are exactly activities we perform at Kanbanchi and could share with people interested. The main stumbling block was to explain the concept of Lean Coffee since it does not translate properly to Russian. Enthusiasts tried to invent translations and adaptations themselves (for example, “coffee with skim milk” :D) Finally we managed to convey the idea! On November 22, 2015 25 enthusiasts gathered to get to know new people and discuss topics they all are interested in.
Divided into three groups (developers, startuppers, marketers)participants were discussing various topics. Friendly atmosphere and professional attitude towards colleagues from different companies let us to find common ways of dealing with most relevant problems; newcomers in the field got answers to their questions and startuppers generated some ideas. It seems startuppers are very curious people who tend to generate ideas for new startups every minute except when they sleep
Everybody demonstrated sincere zeal for maximum productivity: marketers shared their most interesting cases in online and offline marketing. Developers (against our expectations) turned out to be the loudest group at the meeting! Focus of their discussion switched from IT products and programming languages to more broad topics such as communication in IT companies and developers’ health.
After the main discussion we conducted a retrospective to find out what people remembered the most, how to make Lean Coffee more efficient and decide upon the frequency of meetups. Everybody enjoyed the new format, lively discussions and rich experience and skill set of participants. Positive feedback motivated us to move forward with this initiative and organize more Lean Coffee meetups in Saratov.
Watch a short video from our first Lean Coffee: