Daily Huddle

Lean Daily Huddle – Flip the Script and Ditch Your Boring Meeting

Flip the Script! Ditch your boring meeting and have a Lean Daily Huddle

I’ve sat through thousands of hours of subcontractor meetings. Many of them were poorly run—and I know this because I was often the one running them. You know the kind of meeting I’m talking about; the one where the guy running the meeting (that was me) thinks they’re the star of the show, talking too much, telling everyone what they should be doing, not listening, and letting the meeting run for over an hour. But I certainly wasn’t alone—in the movie called My Subcontractor Meetings, I typically shared the screen with these co-stars:

Co-stars of My Subcontractor Meetings before the Lean Daily Huddle

The White Rabbit – Always running late. Usually carrying a mess of papers, and often sweating. Catchphrase: Sorry!

The Godfather – Always stepping out because their phone rings (and it rings a lot). This VIP is probably MIA when it’s their turn to talk. Catchphrase: Gotta take this, be right back.

Sleeping Beauty – Is snoozing 15 minutes into the meeting. Sometimes snores and drools. Contrary to name, actually not a pretty sight. Catchphrase: Huh? Me? Oh…

The Invisible Man – Never shows up to any meetings because something else always takes priority. Catch phrase: _______

Cookie Monster – More interested in the breakfast offerings than with the meeting. Mouth is full when talking. Crumbs on shirt. Catch phrase: Anyone want this? No? OK!

Mommie Dearest – Ready to blow their top any chance they get. People take a step back when this person gets going because you can bet there will be spittle. Catchphrase: %@$#!!!

Sheldon Cooper – Talks about themselves, talks about their work. talks about what they can do, will do, and want to do, and then talks about what they just did and what they plan to do next. Catchphrase: And then I…

Grumpy Dwarf – Can’t wait for their turn to complain about someone or something being in their way. Always ready with blame. Definitely will interrupt you. Catchphrase: Well, THAT’S because…

After seeing this film over and over, I was ready for a new part in a sequel with a different script—and a Lean Daily Huddle was just what I was looking for. A Lean Daily Huddle is a short meeting at the start of a shift to discuss the status of the project, the priorities for the day, constraints, and to communicate pertinent information to team members on the job. If you don’t already run your project meetings this way, please read our post “Why Huddle” for more information.

And if you are doing a Lean Daily Huddle, here are some tips to help you shoot your film with a friendlier, more engaged cast and crew:

Start on time, and end on time

There is a lot of value in starting and finishing your meeting on time. It fosters productivity, it makes a good first impression, and it shows you value your attendees’ time. And by continuously enforcing the promised time restraints, you demonstrate follow-through in keeping your word.

No phones or distractions

Everyone should participate and be engaged. Allowing participants to use their phones at the daily huddles shows a lack of respect to the team because it sets the expectation that the information on your phone is more important than the conversation in the meeting.

Stand up

Remove the chairs from the meeting space so that everyone is standing. This will keep everyone engaged and help everyone stay focused on the topic/discussion at hand. If they are sitting back in a comfortable chair, attendees are more inclined to disengage and turn off their brains.

Stay on track.

Without intent and discipline, it is very easy for a daily huddle to get off track. It is important to know which problems or conversations are not critical to moving the huddle forward. To maximize value, use the following terminology to make sure the time is well spent:

  • Two Minute Rule / ELMO – If a topic has run its course, if a point has been made and it is time to move on, or if the item being discussed does not involve the entire team, any member of the huddle is empowered to call the Two Minute Rule, or ELMO (the two terms are interchangeable). “The Two Minute Rule” means that the issue has been discussed for two minutes or longer and it needs to be put aside for now and resolved outside of the huddle. ELMO stands for Enough, Let’s Move On—playfully tossing a stuffed animal you’ve named “Elmo” at the speaker can be a fun way to break the tension of cutting someone off.
  • The Parking Lot – Once the Two Minute Rule or ELMO has been called, those items need to be placed in “the parking lot.” (It is good practice to write parking lot items on a whiteboard as they arise so that they are not forgotten about.) Placing items in the parking lot means that a quick discussion will be held following the huddle and only with the necessary people.

If you have any Lean Daily Huddle tips, suggestions, or questions, we’d love to hear from you in the comment section.

By: Keyan Zandy, COO
Skiles Group

For more from Keyan, see The Lean Builder – A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field or Connect with Keyan on LinkedIn.

Keyan Zandy, Skiles Group Keyan Zandy is a longtime Lean practitioner, enthusiast, and advocate. As Skiles Group’s COO, he has a dual focus on client service and on nurturing a progressive company culture. He is ultimately responsible for the oversight of the firm’s daily operations and ensuring that their Lean processes are continuously improved and consistently practiced. He is the co-author of The Lean Builder: A Builder’s Guide to Applying Lean Tools in the Field, which simplifies and clearly articulates the benefits of seven primary Lean concepts, and delivers them in a highly-relatable, immediately-applicable, and field-friendly manner. Keyan also serves as CEO for Smart Safety, an award-winning crisis management communication and emergency response tool.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Darrin Nelson

    I am new to Lean after spending my career so far in Safety and Human Performance. I really enjoyed the book and the prez on 10/21/20 at the LCI Congress. Have you guys thought about providing a multi-day training (Building the Builders???) I would sign up TODAY!

    October 21, 2020 at 9:30 pm | Reply

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