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The Morning Huddle - Team Building

A morning huddle (also known as daily stand-up or daily scrum) really made sense to me.

   I was fascinated about the scrum process after reading Jeff Sutherland’s Book,  Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time. 

A morning huddle (also known as daily stand-up or daily scrum) really made sense to me. It is probably the single most effective meeting that you can have with your team.

  The is a quick upbeat standup meeting for communicating status, goals, issues and the like. No downers, complainers or bragging. It is not the time to ask questions, that can be done offline. 

  Generally, standing up will help keep meetings short and to the point. This is especially important during a morning huddle, as your purpose is to share the status of the projects you’re working on and not to solve problems. But remember, it’s not really about standing up. It’s about keeping the huddle short and to the point. So if sometimes your team members want to sit down – who cares, as long as they stay on point? Don’t get hung up on rules that have no meaning.  

  The goal is to check in with the team about what their day will look like. The huddle is not to plan your week or projects – that’s what all the other meetings are for. It is a chance for your team to share information with each other and deliver status checks.

Everybody speaks!

Who speaks?
  Everybody speaks! If your company has 15 people or more, I recommend breaking it down into teams or departments, and then have each team do the morning huddle.
Everybody must say something during the morning huddle. And if you think about it, it really makes sense: each person should have something to share about what they’re working on. Vocalizing individual status updates in front of the whole team will lead to greater commitment and task accountability from each team member.

Who speaks first?
  There are a number of different fun things you can do to keep things interesting as you’re deciding who speaks first.

You don’t want your team to look around the room trying to decide who’s going to speak next. Instead, you should keep it quick and fun.

Pass the ball
  Have a kickball in the office. The person with the ball is the one who decides who speaks next by throwing the ball to that team member. Your throwing/catching skills should improve significantly with this method, and since nobody knows where the ball is going next, everyone will be on their toes!

Keep each update short and crisp.

 What do you actually say?
SkyPort IT’s  Morning Huddle Agenda for us looks like this, but you can have it include information that is important to keep in front of the group. This is not a meeting for negativity and complaining. That can be done off-line.

-Prior Issues You Need Help With (And will discuss off-line.)
-Top Three Goals for Today
-Policy or Procedure Information (New and Some for Review) (Planning to remove)
-Any New Opportunities for Prior Day (Sales Opportunities to address)
-Tech Room Queue and Outbound Shelf Review (Customer Equipment in-house for Work/Delivery)
-WOWs From Customers or Each Other

Keep each update short and crisp. Here are some other ideas of what to share during the huddle:

-Review your company’s or your team’s top 3 metrics.
-Share roadblocks that you need help in (but team members should help after the huddle, not during!)
-Recognize other team member accomplishments.
-Share personal project wins.
-Client updates

You shouldn’t try to communicate all of these things during your huddle. Start with a few of these items and ask your team to stick with them.

  I am all about continual improvement. Review your morning huddle process regularly and see if it’s still fulfilling your team’s communication needs. For my own team, I feel it is not effective as it could be - and it needs an update! You might find that as your company and team evolve, you might have different things to communicate during your morning huddle. Keep it fresh by changing it up based on relevant business needs or cycles.  

You might find that as your company and team evolve, you might have different things to communicate during your morning huddle.

  Why you shouldn’t try to solve problems during morning huddle?
    Problem solving requires debate, discussion, and a thorough review of all options. In other words, it requires time! Employees can state an issue and request help, but the discussion is to be offline. Your morning huddle should be fairly short, you can schedule a separate meeting with the team members concerned.Do not waste other team members’ time. If they’re not directly involved with the problem you’re trying to solve, why would you waste time during the huddle?

   If the meeting takes a turn toward discussion, quickly interject and suggest that folks debating a topic need to schedule a separate time to talk. Then ask for the next person’s update.

  How long should your team huddle be?
The shorter your team huddle, the better. Keep it 15 minutes or less, but also allow each team member to touch all the points you’ve decided to talk about during your meeting.

When should you have your team huddle?
Generally, mornings are a good time to have your team huddle, since everyone will be extra-motivated to get their tasks done since they have made a commitment to their team members already. I have read about a variety of time to have the meeting. We have our at 8:45 am. Our day starts at 8:30am so that give some time to review email and set goals.

Same Place, Same Time
  We meet in the same spot at the same time every morning. Remote teams can also benefit and can join by conference call on speaker phone or teleconference. The same general advice applies to remote teams. Of course, you will not be able to do some of the things – like throwing around a ball to decide who speaks – but you will still gain from daily team updates.

Until next time!

Daniel is President/CEO of SkyPort IT, Inc.
He is also author of “It’s Not My Job to Do IT...”and a contributing author to the collaborative work on cyber security, “Under Attack.”

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