Lean Coffee Table Takes Flight
Lean Coffee Table is an online tool for organised and effective collaboration, but that doesn’t mean it is restricted to only being collaborative online. We met with Tom Fitzpatrick, Director of Consultant Relations from Extreme Networks, who used the tool at the company’s annual in-person user conference, to drive engaging and insightful discussions.
Extreme Networks is global leader in networking. Each year, the company hosts a user conference to bring the broader community together to learn more about the company’s business strategy, products, and solutions.
A key element of the conference is to gather customers into different ‘Birds of a Feather’ sessions with their industry peers, where they talk through challenges and solutions. These sessions are highly interactive and require someone to capture ideas in the discussion and share to a common framework to encourage conversation and engagement. In previous years, this session was facilitated with sticky notes, whiteboards, and flip charts, which as you can imagine, came with constraints.
When Fitzpatrick was given the task of organising this year’s sessions, he wanted to lean into something more progressive and automated to simplify the process of planning and execution. After a recommendation from a customer, Fitzpatrick piloted Lean Coffee Table to take the place of the manually intensive process of stacking messy sticky notes and charts.
85 people attended Extreme’s Birds of a Feather sessions at CONNECT. Six different rooms were set up, where birds flocked according to their interest, ranging from State and Local Government, Higher education to Sports, Venues and Hospitality.
Attendees scanned a QR code at the doors and joined their chosen board through their mobile phone. They then added topics or questions to the board. After 15 minutes, participants voted on which topics they would like to discuss and then put their personal devices away. This allowed the participants to focus on the facilitator’s screen and one another for the time-boxed discussions. Once the timer ended, instead of the thumbs-up/down feature, the group raised their hands if they wanted to continue discussing the topic (alternatively, mobile devices could have been used again here to collect the votes). Meanwhile a ‘scribe’ captured all the attendees’ comments and actions on the shared board. The sessions ran smoothly, and after they had finished the Summary PDF was sent to all attendees.
Benefits of Lean Coffee Table
1. The conversation is kept relevant and focused, through the ‘crowd-sourced’ agenda and the time-boxed conversations. This means the time spent discussing topics is aligned to the collective interest of the group.
2. Discussions can be paused and picked up again later, which meant for Extreme Networks, the Birds of a Feather sessions could easily be interwoven into the two-day conference in the future, rather than limiting to one session. This would be a lot trickier to organise when collecting physical sticky notes from each room and having to remember their placement for the next day.
3. The output from the sessions is actionable and instant. Extreme’s product teams could now easily review the topics and comments and compile the data from all 6 sessions to drive future conversations and actions.
Now that people are talking, Fitzpatrick is curious to see how LCT might be incorporated into continued outreach to customers and resellers online, either in the format of more frequent ‘Birds of a Feather’ sessions or to support the roll-out of new features or services.
As teams and communities transition back to the office and in-person events, they should lean into using digital solutions to facilitate in-person meetings. We’ve all acquired new tools designed to drive collaboration in remote environments and there’s tremendous opportunity to use those tools in new ways.
Lean Coffee Table is also continually evolving and thanks to Tom’s case study, we are looking to add the ability to generate board QR codes within the application. This will allow guests fast and easy access to the board, particularly in-person sessions/ events. Watch out for this new feature coming soon…