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Explore a Sharing Economy with Lean Coffee

Lean Coffee is the event that was organized for the first time at Officience on April 2013. After joining it, I did a Google search to know more about it. I took a glance only at the first result page, below are what I googled out:

– It applies Agile and Lean principles

– It is structured and agenda-less

– A meeting where a specific issue/topic is defined to be discussed by participants

Honestly, I was a bit reluctant to participate in this event. The lack of understanding about the concept “Lean Coffee” didn’t help finding the motivation to join. I did not have a clear idea on the activities and what I should come up with to contribute to it. The only reason I went is that it was organized by a person : she doesn’t merely organize thing only for fun.

It was a discovery journey

The event was casual with do-it-yourself drinks and people around the table. Thanks to this approach, I felt comfortable and related to the people around. I discovered new faces and was curious to get to know them. I was motivated for active participation and openness.

With the creative format of a brainstorming session, the facilitator drove us through a discovery journey about the power of collective intelligence. At this session, we centered our thinking around the topic “Sharing economy”.

Our table had 7 people. We all submitted the topics we wanted to discuss, then we prioritized them by giving points. In around 40 minutes, we managed to cover 3 questions about ”Sharing Economy”:

– What are the goods and bads of the Sharing Economy?

– Can we share everything in the Sharing Economy?

– What would be the core values of the Sharing Economy?

This process of collective intelligence allowed us to sketch out a picture of how the sharing economy looks like. The picture was developed in 3 dimensions: the benefits of the sharing economy and its dark side; its openness (examine boundaries of the sharing); and its core values (identify the cultural disciplines that support the sharing in an economy). Then the team shaped it with going deeper in each dimension.

Regarding to the benefits, the group quickly pointed out a lot of obvious benefits of the sharing economy. However, we spent most of the time on discussing its dark side: the quality of the shared information and the necessity to have a mechanism to screen the information. The group came to the following point : the key to the information-screening mechanism is that it has to be made up by the members of the community where the information is being shared.

In the second topic, the group discussed mainly of the limitations of sharing within a company. We came up with 2 important points. The first one is that, professionally, we should not share all the knowledge we have to the public, especially the knowledge that makes up our competitive advantages. The second one is that on the contrary, we must share with all the key stakeholders in our value chain (including supply chain) to enable vertical collaboration, which is a necessity to all businesses.

In the third topic, to define what are the core values in sharing economy, the group sparkled more than 20 values in different aspects: qualities of human, culture, education,… After voting, we agreed on the 5 most important values that are critical to support the sharing in an economy: Long-term thinking, Trust, High Education, Willing to Share, Open-minded.

Unexpected valuable take-aways

I was greatly surprised by all the things I learned in this “Lean Coffee” session.

Lessons to be learned everywhere (not only topic-related): how the activity was run, what others were thinking, how the ideas were presented to all participants

Power of collective intelligence: I discovered many dimensions about the subject within 40 mins brainstorming and discussion. We sketch a powerful picture of the subject in 40 mins. Amazing.

Belief. I saw a lot of potential in the new people I met: the way they think, the way they present ideas to others, the way they speak during the discussion

Connectedness: I shared ideas with other Offies, especially in other departments. This made me feel more connected with the whole company.

Bring self-confidence to a further level: I had the chance to orally share the ideas to all the participants. Being able to present an idea in 1 minute is a good exercise for any future and longer presentations….

– Last but not least, of course, relating to the main subject being discussed: understand the “Sharing Economy” from different perspectives


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