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Agile Program Management, Enterprise Agile Planning, Products

9 Ways to Get Ideas Brewing with Instant Coffee

Published By Alex Glabman

Getting your best ideas brewing can be difficult, especially if you don’t have the right tools for the job. No matter what type of work you do, you likely do a fair amount of brainstorming, planning, and “noodling” in your daily work. 

We created Instant Coffee to help facilitate better idea generation — whether you’re a C-level executive thinking through your company’s next big move, or an individual contributor trying to collaboratively solve a problem with your team.

Instant Coffee is a new way to brainstorm and collaborate with your team and others. Instant Coffee provides a visual and lightweight way to connect and collaborate in real time, using virtual sticky notes on a virtual canvas. If you have a Planview LeanKitTM account, you already have access to it!  

A product team uses Instant Coffee to brainstorm ideas for the next quarter.

You can easily sort and sift through ideas, determine which ideas are prime for execution, and then send the approved items to LeanKit to get work started. The possibilities are truly endless! Here are some of the many ways you can use Instant Coffee: 

  • Brainstorming 
  • Incremental Planning 
  • Story Mapping 
  • Lean Coffee 
  • Impromptu Meetings 
  • PI Planning 
  • Retrospectives 
  • SWOT Analysis 
  • Standup Meetings 

Brainstorming 

Instant Coffee provides the perfect blank canvas for documenting and facilitating your next brainstorming session. Whether you’re brainstorming new feature ideas, or potential solutions to a current problem, getting started is easy: Simply open a new canvas and invite everyone to participate via a shared link.  

Then get to brainstorming! Add each idea as a card on the board to get started. Then, you can organize the ideas by dividing the canvas into relevant sections, vote on ideas by reacting with “Thumbs Up” to each card, and add notes from your discussion as comments to the card.  

Let’s revisit the above screenshot. In this example, a product team used Instant Coffee to brainstorm ideas for the upcoming quarter. They used different card colors to differentiate between different types of ideas; i.e., features, improvements, bugs, and defects. 

Then, they used the Draw tool in Instant Coffee to turn this smattering of ideas into a calendar: 

Using the same Instant Coffee canvas they used to a brainstorm ideas, a product team plots each idea into their overall plan.

Incremental Planning 

Incremental planning is a process many organizations use to break longer-term initiatives into smaller, more actionable projects. Another excellent use case for Instant Coffee! An easy way to start is to open a blank canvas, and simply start populating it with all of the projects or tasks associated with a larger initiative. You can drag and drop cards to organize them and put them into a logical order. Then, you can select cards to export to your LeanKit board to start executing. 

Story Mapping 

Story mapping is a technique used by product teams to plan out how a user might interact with their product. Although there are tools out there designed specifically for story mapping, they can be overly technical and hinder the brainstorming process.  

Instant Coffee can be used as a “light” version of a story mapping tool — a place to get the ideas out there and discuss them as a team before putting them into a more formal story mapping tool. A benefit of using Instant Coffee for this is that anyone can jump in, contribute ideas, and influence the plan without having to learn how to use a more technical tool. 

Lean Coffee 

The Lean Coffee format is a structured, but agenda-less, meeting designed to facilitate collaborative group discussions. It’s actually one of the main use cases we had in mind when building Instant Coffee. 

Before your next Lean Coffee, create a new canvas in Instant Coffee and create lanes labeled “To Discuss,” “Discussing,” and “Discussed.” Check out this blog for helpful tips for facilitating a successful Lean Coffee virtually. 

Impromptu Meetings 

Instant Coffee is a helpful tool for taking notes during impromptu meetings. As you discuss ideas and action items, document them as cards. After the meeting, you can simply assign them to the correct person and move them to the correct execution board in LeanKit.  

You can easily export stickies from an Instant Coffee canvas to a LeanKit board.

PI Planning 

There are several ways to use Instant Coffee during the PI planning process: 

  • Instant Coffee can be used to facilitate conversations about organizational readiness for PI planning between key stakeholders. 
  • It can be used to brainstorm items for the executive briefing, product vision briefing, and architecture vision briefing. 
  • It can be used to facilitate conversations during team breakout sessions. 
  • It can be used during management review and problem-solving sessions to efficiently document ideas and turn them into actionable cards.  

For more information about the PI planning process, we recommend this page

Retrospectives 

Use Instant Coffee to facilitate your next retrospective. Before the retrospective, divide the canvas into sections relevant to your discussion, such as: 

  • What went well? (What should we continue to do?) 
  • What didn’t go well? (What should we stop doing or do differently?) 
  • What could we try next time? (What should we start doing?) 

Using Instant Coffee can improve participation and focus, as well as give your teams a place to document ideas and action items. If you have any action items that come out of your discussion, you can easily turn them into cards on your LeanKit board. 
 

Teams of any size or type can use Instant Coffee for retrospectives, whether the participants are all working remotely or within a hybrid workforce model.

SWOT Analysis 

Many companies use a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition or project planning. Often, teams will work collaboratively to determine elements in each of the four SWOT categories.  

Rather than simply making a list in a word processing program, use Instant Coffee to make it collaborative! Use the Draw tool to segment and divide your canvas into four sections: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. 

Then, have team members add cards to each of the four sections and discuss. You can use the ‘Thumbs Up’ feature to vote on the Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats, and Opportunities you think are worth including on the official SWOT analysis that you share with the rest of the company.  

A SWOT analysis is a much more collaborative effort when it’s done using Instant Coffee.

Standup Meetings 

Does your team have regular standup meetings to discuss current and upcoming projects? It’s likely that you discuss the same questions at each standup: Another excellent use case for Instant Coffee!  

Create a new canvas and use the Draw tool to divide it into sections, one section for each of the questions you typically discuss in your standup meetings.

  • What did we work on yesterday?
  • What are we working on today?
  • Is there anything blocking our work?

Then, share the canvas with your team and invite them to add cards before the meeting to help the meeting run efficiently. If anyone uncovers work that isn’t reflected on your team’s LeanKit board yet, then you can quickly export the card to the appropriate lane on your board. 

Get Started 

Instant Coffee was designed to be easy to use and quick to learn, so you can get ideas brewing. Keep this helpful tool in mind next time you need to brainstorm, plan, or collaborate with others.  

For more helpful tips and information about how to use Instant Coffee, check out this page. Or, watch the Instant Coffee demo

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Alex Glabman Written by Alex Glabman Product Manager

As Planview LeanKit's Product Manager, Alex enjoys simplifying the complex for prospects and customers. With hands-on experience implementing Lean and Agile across organizations and a passion for surfacing data, Alex is a champion for continuous improvement, eating elephants one bite at a time. Vanderbilt alum; dog lover; bourbon nerd.