What’s your daily news source? Is it a local news program that you listen to in the background while you’re getting ready for work? A sports talk program during your daily commute to work? Or, maybe you prefer a nightly national news program to unwind after a long day? Whatever your personal preference, we all want to stay connected and informed about the world around us.
As the world has become more connected through technology, the speed of publishing news has become almost instantaneous. And, that same acceleration of information is happening in our business organizations today.
In his book, “Team of Teams,” General Stanley McChrystal asserts that organizations have to plan and react at the same speed as the changes in their external environment. Using the Civil War as an example, McChrystal points out that battles in the 1860’s only required generals to create multi-month battle plans – because that’s as fast as the enemy could march troops over long distances. However, today’s enemy can change strategies, leaders and methods in near real-time. As a result, the military has to plan and react in real-time as well. And like our modern generals, business leaders must learn to adapt as well.
So how can your organization keep up with the ever increasing speed of information, and a marketplace changing in real time? Adopt a Daily Huddle to get your “Daily News.” Here’s my simple formula:
Headline News – Begin with all members of the team contributing “Headlines”, including important news from yesterday and today that is relevant to the team – whether it be client news or internal successes. Celebrate wins whenever you can – especially when you can tie them back to your company’s the Core Purpose, Core Values or BHAG. The headline news often includes the following:
- Things to Celebrate – Major wins and accomplishments, for example, “The Newco account signed the new agreement yesterday.”
- Relevant Schedule Information – Important calendar information, for example, “My flight leaves at 2:00 pm today, so if you need any checks cut, please get your requests to me early this morning. And remember, I’m at the conference for the rest of the week.”
- Knowledge to Share – Critical knowledge learned, for example, “The latest update of our CRM now has a shortcut to connect a contact to their LinkedIn profile. Please update those LinkedIn connections when you’re viewing a contact.”
- News About People – Information uncovered about team members, clients, and partners, for example, “Today is Mr. Smith’s birthday. When he comes for his client meeting today, make sure to wish him a ‘Happy Birthday!'”
- Recognition and Appreciation – Gratitude for team members, for example, “I want to give a Core Value shoutout to Sue. Your work on the Newco contract was a great example of ‘On Time Every Time.'”
Weather – Just like the weather forecast, this is the section of the Daily Huddle where team members share relevant KPIs, metrics and forecasts. Leaders can report on company critical numbers and individual team members can report on how their progressing with quarterly individual priorities. Every organization is different, but once you get started, you can modify your agenda for what works for your team.
Traffic – This section is also known as “Stucks.” At this point in the meeting, everyone has a chance to voice any roadblocks from other team members that are keeping them from achieving their goals. A stuck is always specific to one person. For example, “I can’t send out the Acme proposal until I get the estimated shipping cost from Mary.” The Daily Huddle should only be used for stucks when other communication methods haven’t worked. If the meeting is being used for a lot of stucks, that might be a signal of internal communication issues. Any person that is given a “Stuck” should follow up after the meeting with the person that assigned them the stuck to determine next steps.
Focus – The final step in the Daily Huddle is for each participant to share their specific focus for the day. What is the one thing that they will accomplish during the day? The “one thing” is their most important goal to keep the company moving forward. It must be specific and measurable, so the team can hold them accountable. Examples include:
- “I will complete ten cold calls today.”
- “I will deliver the Newco proposal by 3:00 pm.”
- “I will release the month-end reports for the partner meeting by Noon.”
A team member’s Focus is not a “To Do” list of multiple items. It is the most critical task to complete today. It is surprising how many individuals get distracted and can’t complete their primary goal of the day. By building a rhythm of stating and achieving the top priorities of the team, the Daily Huddle will create accountability within the organization.
There is no single ideal size of a Daily Huddle, but it’s typically a team from 10-25 people that need to share information to do their job efficiently. In larger organizations that require multiple Daily Huddles, it’s important to have a team member in every huddle that “connects” to another Daily Huddle. These are typically the team leaders that participate in their team meeting and then participate in a second leadership meeting. This allows information to cascade up or down throughout the organization.
Some key rules to remember about the Daily Huddle:
- Daily Huddles must be done daily, and should take less than 15 minutes.
- Every member of the team must come prepared, with their “daily news.” You can download and use the Simons.Coach Daily Huddle Planning Tool to prepare your Daily Huddle.
- When possible, use a system like aligntoday.com or Google Sheets to record each participants Daily Huddle in writing. This also provides a convenient method for people that missed a huddle to catch up on the news and keep others updated.
- Go around the room four times to share Headline News, Weather, Traffic, and Focus one at a time. If each person does all three at one time, they might “check out” for the rest of the meeting.
- When meeting with remote team members, use a video conferencing system like Zoom, Teams, or Google. For more information about effective video conference calls, read “7 Tips for Better Video Conference Calls.”
- Most important, just like the local TV program, start on time every time.
- And everyone should stand for the meeting. No sitting! This keeps everyone attentive and focused.
- For more information about how to successfully implement a Daily Huddle, see “The Essential Business Meeting, Especially for Remote Workers: A Leader’s Guide to Implementing the Daily Huddle.”
Creating a Daily News rhythm in your organization will empower your team members with the information they need to do their job effectively, and create shared awareness of the celebrations, losses, struggles and wisdom learned on a daily basis. An effective Daily Huddle will also reduce the need for other forms of internal communication (like emails and the office pop-in). Best of all, it will become a daily habit that will keep all team members informed and connected.