Daily Huddle Rules: Stay on Track – How to manage the “Sheldon Coopers” of the daily huddle.
A construction daily huddle meeting can easily go off track if you have an attendee who happens to have the gift of gab. Lean expert Joe Donarumo explains one of the daily huddle rules of how to keep your meetings on topic and offers up a few tips on how to manage those “Sheldon Coopers” in your group.
Have you been “Sheldoned” in a meeting or daily huddle? If you’re not familiar with my terminology, it’s a reference to one of the main characters, Sheldon Cooper, of the popular TV show The Big Bang Theory. If you haven’t seen the show, Sheldon has the innate ability to carry on and on, often leading off with “On the contrary,” or, “Fun fact! Did you know…”
Implementing Daily Huddles
Early in my journey of implementing daily huddles, a particular plumbing trade partner foreman played the role of Sheldon at our meetings. It never failed, once or twice a week this teammate would go on a monologue, sharing everything he had on his mind: what he can do, will do, wants to do, and just when you thought he was done he’d move on to talk about what he just did and what he plans to do next. He was talking about everything and nothing at the same time—meaning his discussion items were important to him, but they didn’t impact or involve the entire team. They played no role in keeping the workflow reliable that day!
Without intent and discipline, it is easy for a daily huddle meeting to go off track. It is important to know which problems or discussions are not critical to moving the meeting forward, and how to keep the meeting moving forward. Early in my career with daily huddles, I didn’t have all the right tools to help me manage these behaviors and people. Through some tough lessons learned, however, I can share a couple of tips that will provide value to your team when dealing with a chatty team member on your jobsite.
ELMO is an acronym that stands for Enough, Let’s Move On. On our projects, it is not rare to see the guys throwing a stuffed animal named Elmo at someone who isn’t sticking to the topic in a meeting. It can be a fun way to break the tension of cutting someone off. It’s a great tool to say, “Hey Frank, what you have to say is important, but it doesn’t involve the entire team. I will circle back with you later this after the meeting.” By leveraging this tool, you just demonstrated respect for Frank and his concerns, but also kept the daily huddle moving along. It’s a win/win!
Not the stuffed animal throwing type? No worries. We’ve also had fun yelling out “Squirrel!” (https://tinyurl.com/lr5she2), calling a Two Minute violation (a non-relevant issue has been discussed for two minutes or longer) and throwing a penalty flag (https://tinyurl.com/ww346lc), Baby Snicker’s bars are also a job team favorite in case anyone gets “Hangry”! Or in honor of Sheldon Cooper, call out “Bazinga!”
The Parking Lot
Now, once you’ve gotten your “Sheldon” to stop talking about something irrelevant to the team, you put it in the Parking Lot.
The Parking Lot – Once ELMO has been called, the topic being discussed needs to be placed in “the parking lot.” It is good practice to write parking lot items on a whiteboard or flip chart as they arise so that the points are not forgotten and so that the individual who raised the point feels heard. Placing items in “the parking lot” means that a quick discussion will be held following the meeting with the necessary people to discuss the issues or circumstances that did not require everyone’s involvement.
By leveraging these two tools, you and your team are now firing on all cylinders by:
- Keeping the meeting on track and focused on discussing the workflow and constraints for that day.
- Keeping ALL team members engaged during the daily huddle.
- Demonstrating respect to a team member who wishes to discuss a topic that doesn’t involve or impact the entire team or workflow that day, while keeping the meeting moving forward.
For more from Joe, see The Lean Builder – A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field.
If you have any Lean Daily Huddle tips, suggestions, or questions, we’d love to hear from you in the comment section.