I thought I knew what a mastermind group was. After all, I have always been a big fan of Napoleon Hill’s book Think and Grow Rich. The author certainly blueprinted the route to success and wealth before the Second World War broke out.

And yet, I have never belonged to such a group until I came across an article in Forbes that fully explained its advantages. The title was 7 Reasons to Join a Mastermind Group (http://www.forbes.com/sites/chicceo/2013/10/21/7-reasons-to-join-a-mastermind-group/)  and it explained in reasonable terms why I should not miss the opportunity.

There were two problems, though. The first one was that I have never been invited in one of those groups; groups that seem to be rare and exclusive. The other one was that as a lean practitioner, there have been no groups that promoted business building through this methodology. I was temporarily stuck!

So, I decided to approach the problem the lean way. I started experimenting with group mentoring during my meetups. The people who participated were mostly unaware of what I was doing but deeply grateful for the results in the end. I chose groups of up to ten people who were either startups or established businesses. I never mixed the two since I believe that they do not face the same problems.

The results were astonishing! I saw people untangling problems that bothered them for months. One of the participants pivoted on the customer’s problem within 15 minutes from the beginning of the session! At that point I knew that a lean mastermind group would be powerful enough to shift long standing perceptions about the business model and instigate action.

I had to come up with a series of principles along which such a group would be organised. So, I devised the following:

a) The groups should be no less than 5 and no more than 8 people. We need a critical mass of people to make the mentoring and the exchange of contacts work. However, more than 8 could undermine the quality of the immediate feedback.

b) The main focus would be to help each other, instead of helping ourselves. A collective target of moving the group towards prosperity and expansion is also helpful. “No (wo)man left behind” should be our motto.

c) Accountability and commitment are necessary for the cohesion of the group and its long term survival. In order to ensure this I decide to implement a modest fee. According to studies, when a person pays for something s/he receives far greater benefits, mainly because s/he puts greater effort into the process.

d) Lean methodology had to be weaved into the traditional structure of mastermind groups. We start the sessions with the main questions of what has been achieved, what problems are we facing and what is our next target. Subsequently, depending on the problems, I ask specific questions that highlight aspect of the business model.

e) Last but not least, all participants have a veto to new members. There should be trust between the members and confidence that whatever is discussed does not spread outside the group. So, synergy should be established from the beginning, with special attention to the common values that the group shares.

Furthermore, I decided to take into account the latest technological developments in communication. So, I am currently organising two of these groups (one for startups and another one for established businesses) online. The members will meet over Google Hangouts and then they will keep in touch through social media. Only 5 people will be accepted in each group.

I will try to keep you updated about developments. As the lean mastermind groups are growing, I will be tweaking the model to perfection. And I intend to share this knowledge with the rest of you.

For my Lean Mastermind groups check out the announcement here