The Association for Software Testing ran a lean coffee over a Zoom meeting on 24th May, designed primarily for the European timezone (in their morning) but also being convenient for me to attend in Australia.
While I’ve attended Lean Coffee sessions at conferences and other events over the years, this was my first experience of this style of meeting in a virtual format. For those unfamiliar with the concept of a Lean Coffee, it’s an agenda-less meeting in which the participants gather, build an agenda and then talk about the topics one by one (usually with a timebox around each topic, which can be extended if there’s energy around it).
The meeting was facilitated by Joel Montvelisky using Lean Coffee Table and we all learned our way around the tool as we went along. It was a small but very engaged group, and it felt like the perfect size for me to both learn from others as well as feeling comfortable to contribute in (what I hope was) a meaningful way to the discussions.
We covered the following four topics in the lean coffee:
- Why do people want to speak at conferences, and can we support them to get what they need in other ways?
- What one thing would you prefer never to have to do again (as a tester)?
- Working conditions for testers
- Tactics for learning while testing
The virtual experience was of course a little different to an in-person one. Firstly, it was later in the day for me so well past the time I’d want to be drinking coffee! But, more seriously, I think the format lends itself well to the virtual environment and perhaps enables more reserved participants to engage more easily than in a physical meeting.
I really enjoyed the session, the time went really quickly and I felt like I got some interesting different perspectives in pretty much all of the topics we covered. I thank the AST for organizing it at a time that was reasonable for folks on my side of the world to attend and I hope to see attend lean coffees in the future (and also hope to see more Aussies and Kiwis in attendance!).
Note that one of the lean coffee attendees, AST board member James Thomas, has penned an excellent blog which covers the content of the discussions from this session in some detail.