Introducing Lean Lunch at work

Lean Lunch

“What do you mean? I always have a lean lunch” was the response I got from one of the testers when introducing this new forum for meeting and discussing test related topics at work. Well I actually did have a lean meal during Lean Lunch but this is not about food…

So what is Lean Lunch?
Lean Lunch is a forum that I just started at my company. The purpose of this forum is to be able to meet and discuss testing at work in a relaxed and non-compulsory get-together.

Having this get-together with testers that works for the same company eases the discussions since we don’t need to think about confidentiality.

The concept is the same as Lean Coffee but since the get-together is during lunch I call it Lean Lunch.

How we did it
All testers were invited. Out of a group of sixteen, five turned up which was a really good number since everyone got the opportunity to talk.

1. We brought our lunch and occupied a conference room
2. We chose two topics each (max per person) and wrote them down on a post-it.
3. We then very briefly explained our topic
4. We got three points each to use to vote on the topics we wanted to discuss ( at first we had two but too many of the topics got the same amount of points)
5. We started of with the topic that had the highest number of votes
6. We did a quick recap on what the topic was about
7. We set the timer to 5 minutes and started the discussion
8. When time was up we voted whether to continue or not,  using the thumb-up or the thumb-down sign.
9. If thumbs-up then we went on another 5 minutes.
10. We then went on to the next topic if we were finished with the previous.

Then we continued until the Lean Lunch was over (after 60 minutes).

The topics
We had time to go through four different topics:

1. The difficulty of taking notes while testing.
2. Shifting between details and overview when testing
3. How much test design is needed. And what happens when you have very little time?
4. How do we handle system testing/integration testing now that both the team and our system is growing.

I will go through our discussions on the topics in another post.

Reflections over our Lean Lunch
The testers that attended enjoyed the get-together.

My personal reflections are following:

I am very happy I initiated the forum
I am happy that there were testers that came to Lean Lunch. It almost got cancelled since several of the testers that intended to join said that they hadn’t prepared any topics. I said: ” Well just bring your concerns that I know you have and write it down on a post-it. You don’t need more than that”
The group can’t be much larger than five people. It might depend on who is joining though. This was a great mix of testers with different views. There was no one dominating the discussions and everyone was let to talk.
I learned what concerns my team members.
I had to hold back several times to only listen instead of talking though I many times wanted to just talk since I get so excited when talking about test.
Note taking was difficult when eating at the same time. And sometimes talking was difficult too.
It is good to point out someone as a facilitator, to keep track on time and staying on the topic. In this case I was facilitating mostly since I was the one introducing the concept. There were a few times were the discussions drifted away in to something different and then I cut them off.

5 thoughts on “Introducing Lean Lunch at work

  1. This sounds like a fun way of getting to know what obstacles your co-workers struggle with. One Question thou, how large do you feel the group could have been and still be productive?
    And did you have a specific goal with the meeting or was the disscussion it’s own reward?

    • Thank you Ivan for finding my blog and commenting on it.
      I think the group can be no more than seven people but I also think it depends alot on the composition of the group.
      It should be possible for everyone to speak and get their voice heard. But that it is also up to the group to create such an environment.
      You could facilitate the discussion but it is such a short meet-up and the discussions are also time boxed, which is aslo a way of facilitating the meeting.
      The goal of the meeting was to be able to discuss test related topics/issues/problems in a relaxed way. The discussions are about sharing experiences.

  2. I really like the idea, though the name may suggest a specific direction towards lean,
    I guess I would rather call it Testing Lunch :-).
    Wonder if similar activities can be performed On-Line to bridge the WW gap,
    How would you run that over a forum for instance?

    We can ask for topics even in advance, set a Poll to decide order of things, start discussion at given time while moderating, each topic get a sub-thread, discussion can keep on living even afterwords as anyone can join later too.

    • Thank you for your comment Kobi!
      It sounds like an interesting idea of an on-line “lean coffee”. At least it would be worth trying. Though I don’t really see a big difference from normal forum discussions if the discussion continues after the meeting. But I would be willing to try.
      Though for my team it is not only about the discussions. It is also about getting to know each other and being able to actually meet and discuss some times very specific topics that might not be able to discuss outside the company due to confidentiality. I also like the face to face discussions.

  3. Pingback: How to use TestSphere for a Lean Lunch | Testknight

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