The Daily Huddle

"Routine Sets you Free" - This is so true. In my work with my clients, I can't emphasis enough the importance of meeting rhythms, particularly the daily meeting we call the "Huddle". Huddles are a great way of synchronising a team so that everyone knows what is going on, how your are tracking towards your key priorities and what might be stopping you from getting there (or slowing you down).

In this article, I'll give you some pointers on how to get the most out of your huddles...


"Get the leadership team together for a meeting every day? we don't have time for that!"

"We have enough meetings already, i don't want to go to more."

"We never finish within 10 - 15 minutes, we are still going 30 minutes in."

I often hear objections like these when I introduce my clients to the concept of daily huddles and I am often amazed at how entrenched the resistance can be. But, this is without doubt one of the quickest and easiest way to improve the performance of organisations large and small. Huddles allow the leadership team to very quickly get to grips with what is happening today, how they are tracking and where they are stuck. To me it is a no brainer and well worth the minor inconvienience of giving up 10 to 15 minutes each day. Relentless focus on the key priorities can only help you get to your goals faster than if you are not clear about where you are headed.

So, what is a huddle?

A huddle is a brief meeting of all the members of a team to synchronise for the day so everyone know what to do and what to focus on.

When should you hold it and how long should it last?

I'd recommend holding huddles in the morning, ideally as soon as the whole team is in. For some companies, it is the first thing they do, for others it is a mid morning event. Holding the huddle at an odd time like 9:07 of 8:23 seems to make it more memorable and means people tend to get to the huddle on time. The huddle should last between 5 and 15 minutes. If it goes for longer, you are probably stepping down into solution mode. A good rule of thumb is 1 - 2 minutes max per team member.

What do you cover off in a huddle?

The agenda for a huddle is pretty simple with only 3 or 4 items every day.

  1. Whats Up?
  2. The Numbers
  3. Blockers or Stucks
  4. Good news 

Whats Up? - each attendee shares what they will be working on over the next 24 hours (until the next huddle). Be specific, "I am meeting with a client this morning" doesn't help much but "I am meeting with Peter Francis from Green Tree to discuss how we can help them improve their supply chain productivity" gives the whole team the context about the meeting. Enough for someone to be able to say "Ah, I know Pete, he has a thing about punctuallity so don't be late" or "Pete told me last year that he is looking to partner with companies like us so this could be a good opportunity for us, how can I help?". This should only take 1 - 2 minutes per attendee.

The Numbers -  review whatever daily measurements your company uses to track its progress against its priorities, highlighting any unusual trends. These are normally your critical numbers, KPIs or OKRs. The key thing is that everyone can relate these numbers back to the key priorities so they know how the business is tracking to its quarterly priorities.

Blockers or Stucks - What is stopping or delaying you. You’re looking for bottlenecks. There’s something powerful in simply verbalizing, for the whole group to hear, your fear, your struggle, your concern. It’s the first step to solving the problem, because “until the mouth runs, the brain won’t engage.” And the only people who don’t get stuck are those who aren’t doing anything. So, scrutinize the person that repeatedly reports “everything is fine!” or “no stucks today.” Important as it is, the bottleneck conversation shouldn’t be allowed to drift on into problem-solving. It’s okay if somebody wants to reply to a bottleneck by saying “Call so-and-so,” but if two people start engaging over an issue, politely suggest they “take it off line.” Remember: The daily meeting needs to be kept short. 

Good News - If there is a good news story, a client or sales win, a project delivery, a great client outcome or a birth or marriage, tell the group and let the good news motivate and inspire them at the start of their day. This is a great time to re-inforce the purpose, values or actions to live by.

How big should huddles be?

They should be the full team which will normally be between 5 and 8 people. Any larger than that they start to get unwieldy and its hard to get through everyone in the time. If your huddle is bigger than that, then that might be a sign that you need to look at your team structure.

How many huddles should I be in each day?

You should not normally be in any more than two huddles each day, your peer team huddle and the huddle for the team you lead.

Who should run the huddle?

The person running the huddle should be a senior person in the group. They need to be organised and be capable of keeping the meeting on track. Apart from that it doesn't really matter who runs the group and I have seen this role rotated around the team. Do what works best for you.

Try huddles in your business and stick with them for a few months. You'll see some amazing results if you run them properly. The number of ad-hoc meetings will go down, there will be more clarity within the team and you will notice things going wrong less often. Synchronisation of teams does that!

Posted by : ged | On Monday, 14 November 2016 | Modified On Wednesday, 19 April 2017


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