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Lean coffee


A format for running a meeting without a predefined agenda


To give everyone equal opportunity to surface ideas and vote on agenda topics, allowing meeting attendees to be co-owners in the meeting agenda.

Time required


How to do it

  1. Give meeting participants two minutes to write what they would like to talk about on sticky notes (one idea per sticky note)
  2. Have meeting participants review the topics generated and dot vote on the topics they are most interested in
  3. Decide how much time will be spent talking about each topic
  4. Start with the topic that got the most votes
  5. At the end of the allotted time, have meeting participants vote:
    • Thumbs up: Continue talking about the topic for a shorter set amount of time
    • Thumbs down: Move to the next topic

Example from 18F

At 18F, Lean coffee is often used to facilitate community of practice meetings and team meetings when the objective is to provide a forum for the meeting attendees to raise issues that are of interest to them. This method provides structure to these meetings and ensures topics are democratically selected for conversation.

Additional resources

Considerations for use in government

No PRA implications. No information is collected from members of the public.