Lean coffee: the early bird catches the croissant!

Lean coffee

written by Elisabeth Iwanski

If you want to attend a Lean Coffee, you have to get up early. And those who get up early are rewarded with croissants and coffee. Our colleague Elisabeth set her alarm clock, received her reward – and, as a token of gratitude wrote us a summary of Lean Coffee Cologne on November 15, 2019.

Eight o’clock in the morning at Cologne Cathedral: The Lean Coffee Event can start; it’s my first. My tiredness vanished quickly when I saw how fit and enthusiastic the participants, already engrossed in discussions, were. With coffee and delicious croissants, the event started at eight o’clock sharp, and fortunately, I wasn’t the only “newcomer” who hadn’t a clue of the format yet. A short explanation and off we went to select the topics. After voting, we managed to discuss the following three topics.


The first topic alone provided stuff for discussion which led to a lot of questions. A very concrete example: A product vision was not developed with the team, but instead, was “pulled out of the drawer” and made accessible to everyone. However, many people cannot identify with the vision. Does it, therefore, make more sense for the team to think up its own team vision and live according to it? Can the team vision be transferred to the product vision?

Because of the many questions which arose, it was obvious that the four teams involved in discussing this case did not regard themselves as one big joint team. Therefore, it became clear: “The team” has to initially feel that it is a team as such. There was also a unanimous agreement that the team should jointly revise and rethink the product vision. In this way, members of the team can contribute their own ideas and create the product vision together.


Instead of answering this self-explanatory question directly, the first question was whether the Scrum model makes sense in the first place. Are there any features to develop? Is there a concrete problem to solve in order to use Scrum? Before working out the dos and don’ts, there are very important questions to answer first: Does the team know what Scrum is? Is the team ready for the model? What is the team’s attitude towards the Scrum process? 

The solution was not a classic dos and don’ts list, but rather the suggestion to question the process and to see if the team has been briefed enough on the topic.


On the last topic of the morning, again, we ran out of time faster than planned and so it had to be extended. It quickly became obvious that the focus was on the product and that the feature development was being driven forward. But what happens when you as a Scrum master notice that the team doesn’t feel comfortable? This might involve the whole team as well as individual team members who may have already resigned internally. 

Almost unanimously, we addressed the topic of communication. You should talk to each other and about the problems. A retrospective is often not enough, but a “self-care appointment” outside the retro could be made, in which the needs of each team member are openly discussed and how these needs can be met.


Even though I am neither a product owner nor a Scrum master, I find the format very exciting! And at the end of today’s Lean Coffee was a Happy Birthday song for our dear Bea 🙂

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