September 6, 2013

Change of Plans, PCOs and Lean Coffee

I was going to blog today about my week of using PCOs, but it turns out that a 4 day week is not enough time to really get a feel for this technique. I did share it with my agile team, they were confused. I shared it with my testing team and they were very excited.  I'll come back and write the third part of the PCO experience next week at some point.

However, that doesn't mean I don't have something to talk about today!  Today, lets talk Lean Coffee.  I first experienced Lean Coffee at CAST 2013. It was a great experience there and I've been looking for ways to bring it back to Saskatoon ever since. Yesterday I did that in a small way.  

The test team that I lead has a weekly meeting where we get together to discuss various testing related topics that have come up in the past week. This has taken a few different forms, from learning sessions where we have a specific topic that someone teaches about to Highs and Lows sessions where we talk about the best and worst of the past week.  While these meeting were achieving my goal of getting the team together and helping solve their problems, I didn't feel the team was engaged. One member has been consistently asking to skip, and if I was away the meeting didn't happen.  I might have a solution, for my team at least.

Yesterday, instead of starting the meeting as I usually would by polling the room for impediments from the past week, I introduced Lean Coffee. When I was done and they set to it, every person had put forward at least two topic ideas.  While we didn't have a lot of time, the dot voting did direct us to the important items quickly. The few topic cards that were left when we finished were either filed as: 1) lets do this as a one on one later, 2) This can wait until next week, or 3) that other topic card covered what I wanted from this card.  It was a great experience and I felt my team more engaged in the meeting than I have in months.

If you haven't been to a lean coffee, you should try it. It will change the way you think about small meetings.  It works really well for short meetings of people with a related interest to spur on great  conversations that might not happen because you don't know that others are thinking the same things.   I'm hoping to spread lean coffee further at my workplace and even around saskatoon.

For more reading about lean coffee see here and here

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