What is Lean Beer?

Lean Beer is an alternative to Lean Coffee. For folks who cannot always join us early in the morning and want to meet during happy hour. Lean Beer is a great place to ask questions and share your stories of using Agile, Lean or Scrum over an adult beverage, if you choose. We discuss any topics on Agile and Lean that are of interest to whomever is gathered. You suggest the topics, then we mix them up and pull them out of a hat. We manage our discussions via time boxes, and a Roman vote (drinks up/drinks down).




Here's how to run a Lean Beer.

  1. First, find a bar. Ideally one where you don't have to shout to be heard over the loud music. Sit where you can all hear each other. We find that sitting in a U shape works best, or a wide table with people on both sides. We have had anywhere from 3 to 23 people show up. Things work best when everyone has a drink with them, even if it is just water.
  2. Start by having everyone write down something they want to discuss, share or ask a question. Write each topic on a piece of paper, post-it, index card---anything really. Have each person fold up the paper when done.
  3. Collect the writings and either A) put them in a bucket, or B) into a pile. All the pieces should be folded. I usually try and bring a bucket but sometimes I put them in a pile when I don't have one.
  4. Someone randomly pulls out a discussion topic. This is easier with a bucket, but if you don't have one just mix the topics up in the pile and select one randomly. Typically, I facilitate and do this part but really anyone can do it. Read the card out-loud to the group. Depending on what is written, you might ask the author of the writing to explain or elaborate.
  5. Set the timer for five minutes and discuss. There's no need for a talking stick; it's just people at a bar talking, trying to help, answering questions, listening to an idea, etc. 
  6. When the buzzer dings, stop everyone and ask, "Do we want to keep discussing this topic?". Everyone that wishes to keep discussing raises their glass in salute. Two options. A) Majority wins and 5 more minutes are added on the timer or B) discussion on the topic only continues if there is unanimous agreement. Typically, I prefer the first option.  Note: Raising the glass should always be an "affirmative" answer. So you can answer any yes/no question by raising your glass to signal yes. 
  7. If the voters decide to move on, then that's it. Toss out the current topic and go back to step 4.

You've now run a Lean Beer.

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