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How The Ritz Carlton & I Run Our Meetings: The Daily Huddle

The Daily Huddle has arguably been one of the greatest productivity and efficiency boosters I’ve personally experienced.

Since I started using it, I’ve run into numerous industry leaders (such as the Ritz Carlton and Johnson & Johnson) who benefit from the Daily Huddle.

Duhh, why didn’t I begin this 20 years ago!

300px-victory_huddle

England huddle to celebrate victory over India in Mumbai, March 2006

I first read about the concept of the Daily Huddle in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, which may be the best how-to book for small businesses that I’ve read.  Its author Verne Harnish was inspired by the habits of business tycoon John D. Rockefeller and translates those for you to apply to business today.

I know, I sound pretty excited about this stuff — that’s cuz I am!

So, what is the Daily Huddle? Well, for starters, I use the term “Daily Huddle” because I like the ring of it — you may have heard it called names like Daily Scrum, Daily Pulse, Daily Agile, Daily Lineup (Ritz Carlton) or Daily StandUp. The concept is what counts.

Basics

Let me outline the basics first:

  • Time of Day — It should be as early as possible (ideally in the morning).
  • Length of Time — 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the size of the team).
  • Number of Attendees — Teams of 7 or fewer people (if you have teams that are larger than 7, you probably have a team that needs to be split up).
  • Who Attends — Every person in your company should be attending at least one Daily Huddle (but no person should attend more than two or three).
  • Who Runs It — I recommend you pick the senior manager of the particular team to run it (unless he or she is not organized in which case pick the most senior organized person).
  • Where Does it Take Place — It can be done in person or over the phone or on videoconferencing if you’re lucky enough to have one of those.

Agenda

The agenda is the same every day. I recommend you first test out the Rockefeller Habits’ suggested agenda. That’s what I did and we didn’t need to change a thing.

  1. What’s Up — The first section of the Daily Huddle should be about each of your team members sharing the What’s Up of what they’ve accomplished since you all last met. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes (Every participant should talk for no more than 30 seconds each).
  2. The Numbers — The second section is about the numbers of your business. Here, you should cover the critical metrics that are most important to your team. For example, in my Sales Daily Huddle, we report on such vitals as total sales by brand from the previous day (with comparisons to prior periods) and percentage of our monthly sales goal we project. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes
  3. Roadblocks — This section focuses on the roadblocks (also called “bottlenecks”) that the team members face. Total Time: 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Values & Ideology — This last section covers values-related items that don’t fit nicely into the first 3 sections of the meeting. An example of Values or Ideology items might be praise that someone outside the group has earned or a personal item that someone outside the meeting is facing that is affecting their performance (for example, we just had a woman on our team whose neighborhood in Santa Barbara was on fire (from Wildfires); and one of our values is to make sure to take care of such people in need of assistance (by offering to pick up her slack and be extra supportive of her and her family).

Bonus Tips

Here are some other things I’ve noticed from my experience with the Daily Huddle.

  • Give it a Week — It will be tough for your people to adopt at first (the first one will be awkward when, for instance, you ask people “What’s Up?) — But it will become easier as the team figures it out (give it a good week!)
  • Don’t Problem Solve — You should keep it focused on problem-identification and not problem-solving (if there’s a problem that can’t be solved with a “one-liner” by one of the group, then you should schedule to meet off-line.
  • Start at Odd Time — Try scheduling it and a time other than the half-hour or hour (e.g. try 10:02am in the morning). Reason: People will remember it more and you’ll find they show up at 10am to 10:01am (instead of being late!).
  • It Helps The Rest of Your Day — The Daily Huddle will help you and your team better figure out how to spend the rest of their day.
  • Start with Senior People — The most effective way to roll out the Daily Huddle is to have your organization’s leaders do it first (secret: if leaders do it, it will trickle down through the rest of your business).

And please read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits — it’s chock full of other valuable habits and ideas for businesses to grow.

You should comment below about your experience with the Daily Huddle — I really want to hear your opinion!

19 Comments

  • http://www.winshapecamps.org Angela

    I’ve heard of this concept and the successes that have come as a byproduct… success not just of the organization or businesses that practice the “5 minute huddle” but the success of the individuals. I am still in research mode and that is how I came across your blog. No success stories of my own to report yet, but hopefully soon. Thank you for the book recommendation!

  • http://www.fulcrumgroup.net Steve Meek

    We have added the Daily Huddle for our services team, sales and operations with great success. At first it seems like it will take a lot of time, but it ends up saving lots of time.

  • Huddled To Death Employee

    TOTAL WASTE OF TIME IF NOT EXECUTED PROPERLY!

    Our ops team works on several different projects, yet for some reason we ALL huddle up in the morning to talk about things happening with projects that don’t even impact other people in the room.

    Our leadership has obviously not figured out that we need to split into our own Project-specific huddles to get the most productivity out of the daily huddle. Think PEOPLE!

  • Rob Kelly

    That’s a great point, oh irritated one. I agree fully. Smaller, project-oriented huddles have been key in our business!

  • Rob Kelly

    Thanks, Steve. Glad to hear that the Daily Huddle works at the Fulcrum Group!

  • zamkam

    Sorry to disagree, but I have been subjected to these huddles for the past year and found them to be a royal waste of time, my colleagues agree with me on this, we feel we're being treated like 5 year olds with the constant meetings. Maybe this thing is good for people with no sense of direction who need constant reminders of where to go and what to do and can only deal with short term goals. I prefer to be told what to do and just do it, sending frequent status reports. I'm sure if Rockefeller was alive today he wouldn't do the huddles, he would just ask his managers so email him their current status.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry to disagree, but I have been subjected to these huddles for the past year and found them to be a royal waste of time, my colleagues agree with me on this, we feel we’re being treated like 5 year olds with the constant meetings. Maybe this thing is good for people with no sense of direction who need constant reminders of where to go and what to do or for those who can only deal with short term goals. I prefer to be told what to do and just do it, sending frequent status reports (I have no problem with that). I’m sure if Rockefeller was alive today he wouldn’t do the huddles, he would just ask his managers to email him their current status.

  • zamkam

    Sorry to disagree, but I have been subjected to these huddles for the past year and found them to be a royal waste of time, my colleagues agree with me on this, we feel we're being treated like 5 year olds with the constant meetings. Maybe this thing is good for people with no sense of direction who need constant reminders of where to go and what to do or for those who can only deal with short term goals. I prefer to be told what to do and just do it, sending frequent status reports (I have no problem with that). I'm sure if Rockefeller was alive today he wouldn't do the huddles, he would just ask his managers to email him their current status.

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  • ahmed salman

    since we have a weekly meeting, I believe a daily meeting is a waste of time.i do prefer to have a daily report of achievements from each dept which can be emailed to the GM and all colleages — this should be submitted at a specific time and be well documented.i thinlk this daily report can serve the same purpose as a daily huddle Ahmed Salman

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    Good points, Ahmed. I think that if you’ve got a solid weekly meeting with daily reports keeping your team on the same page, you’re in better shape than most teams!

  • Rocketxhuman

    I’m a team leader on a sales floor doing carloans for a major bank in Australia. since we’ve started doing daily 15 min huddles for the sales consultants the atmosphere on the floor has really improved and the teams have a lot more energy and interaction. That being said i’ve also had to do daily meetings with other managers which really is a waste of time. These work great for getting front line staff to come closer together and you can mention small things they need to be aware of daily rather than waiting for a monthly one on one. thanks for the good article.

  • Dmirshahzadeh

    It could be that the huddle is being ran incorrectly. The huddle should be no longer than 5-10 minutes and is meant as a communication tool to keep the organization aligned. How long is your huddle? What are you doing during it and what is the goal of the huddle? Also how well is your company Morale? Do you have core values? Do you know them? Does the team believe in them? All these things play into this.

  • Zamkam

    My huddles last about 15 minutes on average, but we’ve had a few longer than 30 minutes. But my problem is mainly with the idea behind the huddle: Does EVERY department in a company need to meet EVERY DAY to discuss what’s going on? Do the math: even if the huddles are really short (5 min), in a company of 200 people like mine that means 200 x 5 = 1000 person-minutes per day, about the same as two full time employees doing nothing for the entire year. 

    As for your questions: my company’s morale is very high, we do have core values and get quizzed on them year round, the person being quizzed gets $100 if he/she answer correctly, so you can bet we know those core values perfectly well. And we actually believe in them, they’re mostly common sense. Thank goodness the huddles are not part of the core values. 

  • http://www.robdkelly.com Rob Kelly

    Good points, Zamkam! I believe that a daily huddle, if done properly, can be well worth the time investment to keep employees aligned make progress. But, like everything, there certainly may be exceptions!

  • ITIDAL SABRI

    ITIDAL SABRI 

    ITS BORING MEETING EVERY DAY,,, 

  • Rick

    Zamkam, your either a Star employee, Rat or terrorist. Rats don’t drink the company kool-aid nor buy into the culture and a terrorist is good at what they do, but is against the culture. Rats and terrorist get shot. Any leader in my company that cant follow the core cultural health of the organization should be fired. in this case, you wouldn’t be with my company because you wouldn’t be adhering to the Core Values.