Daily Huddle, Teamwork

The Daily Huddle – Keep it Short

For the best daily huddle ideas in Lean construction, The Lean Builder is your premier source. Today’s tip is on keeping your huddles short by Joe Donarumo.


Daily Huddle Ideas – Keep It Short

I ran a weekly subcontractor meeting for many years. It always worked the same: I’d bring in the trade foreman, pull out my schedule, and tell the “team” what I expected they’d get done that week. It was the way I was taught, and I never second guessed it. So, when the idea of a daily huddle was pitched to me, I was skeptical—but when I was told the meeting should last no more than 20 minutes, I laughed! I thought that meeting every day was a waste of time, and on top of that, there was no way I could see 20 minutes being long enough.

Boy, was I wrong!

The Daily Huddle

If you’re still not sold as to why you need a daily huddle, please read this post: “Why Huddle,” and see if we can’t change your mind. If you have switched to a daily huddle, then this blog hopes to help you accomplish “keeping it short”.

Here’s why. If your daily huddles last more than 20 minutes, you will run the risk of losing everybody’s attention in the meeting. To get the team into the practice of keeping the meetings short and efficient, use an egg timer or a smart phone set for 20 minutes—and make sure everyone can see the countdown. It might seem a little out of place at the start, but it will help your team get into a good rhythm for shorter meetings.

Focus the team on only talking about the following items:

  1. What are you working on?
  2. Where are you working?
  3. How many crews/workers are on-site?
  4. What are your constraints/needs?
  5. What material deliveries are coming up?

Daily Huddle Cards

We created and use huddle cards, which we hand out to foreman at the beginning of a project. These questions are printed on them, and each trade only needs to read and answer what’s on the card. By having the trades answer these questions, you are allowing them the chance to collaborate and coordinate with the other trades. This achieves buy-in and accountability—especially the question about constraints and needs—and allows for a more reliable workflow.

When guys start to get off track or bring up issues not relevant to the team, call “The Two Minute Rule” (this 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) and place that issue in the “Parking Lot” (a spot on a whiteboard or a sheet of paper to document items that will be discussed following the huddle with only the affected trades.) By using these tools, you’ll be sure to stay on track with time.

After you transition to this style of meeting, don’t be discouraged if the timer goes off and you realize you’re only halfway through the material. You’ll get better at this as you go. It’s tricky at first but I promise that, over time, you and your team will develop the muscles to keep these meetings moving quickly and efficiently, and before long you’ll realize that 20 minutes is just right.

By: Joe Donarumo, Senior Superintendent & Director of Lean Application
Linbeck Group


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Joe Donarumo, Linbeck Group

Joe Donarumo serves Linbeck as Senior Superintendent where he has been able to develop and lead high-performing field teams across Linbeck’s Healthcare market group. Joe also serves Linbeck as their Director of Lean Application, ensuring that Linbeck's Lean processes are continuously improved and consistently practiced. Joe has a unique passion for Lean implementation, continuous improvement, and a ruthless pursuit of waste elimination within his projects, teams, and overall organization. Joe is also the Co-Author to The Lean Builder, a business fable written for field leaders and last planners to help them begin their Lean journey with respect to Lean implementation at the field level.

2 Comment(s)

  1. Justin

    Good stuff. I just heard a story today about a super that had daily huddles that lasted an hour and 20 minutes. Ridiculous.

    April 16, 2020 at 2:27 am | Reply
  2. John

    Great Stuff been using it for two years

    September 3, 2020 at 7:07 pm | Reply

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