Most of the businesses I work with have business huddles. Some have daily stand-up huddles. Some have weekly huddles either at the beginning of the week or at the end. Some that I work with have started conducting monthly financial huddles that I’ve taught them how to run. Perhaps you use a different term for these meetings. Personally, I prefer the terms debrief and financial impact circles. In this discussion, we’ll stick to the term business huddles.
A History of Business Huddles
Huddles of any kind have been around for years, but at some point, somebody started using the term huddles, and it stuck. Obviously, the term is an analogy to a sports huddle that we commonly see in football.
I think I first read the term in a business context in the book, The Great Game of Business.
None of that would happen without our weekly Huddles. They serve as our organizational switchboard. They are the means by which we stay connected to one another. They set the pace and the tone and the mood of the entire company. When I see what our Huddles do for us, it amazes me that so many companies get by without having regular staff meetings all.The Great Game of Business, page 216
Throughout the entire book, you can gain insights into how SRC, the company behind the Great Game of Business, uses huddles to create a strong level of engagement between employees and the work they do for customers.
A Football Player’s Take on a Huddle
One of my favorite books on leadership is part football story. Mike Dowling is a sentimental favorite in the book, Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx. Dowling was once kicked off his high school team. After making some major changes in his life, he ultimately became a captain of his high school team. In the book, he reflects on the meaning of a huddle with his teammates.
“I love the huddle. There’s such a strong feeling of co-dependency when you’re all in there together. There’s nothing like it in any other sport I’ve played. You don’t have to pretend in the huddle. You don’t have to cling to any false pretenses. Even the shape of it is perfect … a tightly wound circle. Everybody has their own ambitions and their own wants, but we all share the same desire too. You can just look in everyone’s eyes and see that, and then once you realize how much everyone else wants it, that makes you want it even more.”Season of Life: A Football Star, page. 158
What a truly great description of a huddle. Can that type of huddle exist in business? My favorite example can be found in one of my favorite books written by a former Nucor CEO, Ken Iverson. In the book, Plain Talk, there is a fascinating reference about huddles I’ve never forgotten:
If your shift starts at two o’clock, you should be here by one or one-fifteen. The latest anybody shows up is one-thirty according to a production worker at their Vulcraft plant.
We get our equipment ready. We talk about what we must do to make things go right. It’s like a football team before a game. You don’t show up before kickoff. You get there early and you get yourself ready.
I love those lines in that book. I should add that the leadership was active and cared about all team members. Without that involvement, these huddles probably don’t take place.
Five Questions About Business Huddles
It’s your turn. Let’s find out about your mindset on business huddles.
- Does your company have business huddles consistently even if they are called a different name?
- How would you describe a business huddle if another company wanted to adopt them and asked for your help?
- If you have huddles in your business, is every single member actively engaged in the meeting process?
- Do your huddles make a difference, or do you sense team members are just going through the motions?
- What do you think of Mike’s view of a huddle? Does his concept apply in business too?