Lean Coffee to Lean Community

Lean Coffee Kelowna is only two weeks young but has already created an impact on people and businesses here. I was inspired to root a lean coffee meeting in Kelowna after great experiences meeting and learning from the #leancoffeeTO crew. Through discussions with Mark Reale, one of the co-organizers, I knew that lean coffee was something that was valuable in it’s core and had a basic enough concept that it could be repeated to build a knowledge community wherever it went.

That concept; conduct meetings with other lean enthusiasts in a lean fashion.

The ideas of Lean Methodology have altered how startups function and Lean Coffee is a chance to grow those ideas and challenge each other to deploy them. The lean fashion of how these meetings occur is essential to it’s value. Everyone is there to achieve something by the end of the hour and are encouraged to keep each other accountable to that and steer the progress of the meeting by being honest and giving constant feedback on what’s happening. This means, “What you’re saying doesn’t mean anything – Get to the point.” It’s cutting waste and keeping the group responsible to the values that they are trying to achieve, and it works. I was surprised at the depth that a group of 25 startup entrepreneurs could get in an hour of discussion because they all wanted to achieve the same thing and weren’t allowing each other to be distracted or elaborate on tangets. Lean methods are most effective in groups where values are aligned and objectives are common.

That is community.

These lean methodologies, processes, and principles can be used beyond our startups for community growth. By looking at philosophies like the ones employed in the Toyota Production System, the original lean system, we can systematically grow value in our communities. People generally don’t like hearing about systems or processes being implemented in relationships, communities, or anywhere outside of business because they feel like they become just a cog in the machine. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Process in community stands as a way to maintain perspective, achieve goals sooner, and depend on community discussion to shape their direction. Think of this in reference to Agile development. Agile works because we’ve figured out that we don’t know how things will end up long term, even though we have this vision in our minds of what we want. Whether your vision is a product or a community, this is true and a process of iterative community development and introspection will help your community grow rather than being intimidated by the massive undertaking of determining a groups future and taking steps to get there.

Functionally, this is what that looks like:

Step 1: How can I help bring value to our community?
Step 2: How can I help bring value to our community in the next 2 weeks?
Step 3: Do the result of Step 2.
Step 4: Did the results of Step 3 benefit the community? What do they think?
Step 5: Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4, until you’ve exhausted all results of Step 1.

Is this easy to do? Not necessarily, but neither is building a product that people want to use and will pay for. How this process helps is to break something massive like community development down into easier to manage steps giving you better perspective on what can bring value and what is and isn’t wasteful.

As a result, value comes from the process, just like that saying, “it’s about the journey and not the destination.” Your destination is a strong community developed on similar values, and the knowledge of process and execution gained along the way defines you.

Follow the growth of #leancoffeeKL or join the community.

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