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Huddle Boards: The Name Makes More Sense Than You'd Think

Posted by Matt Banna

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Sep 16, 2016 8:16:00 AM

huddle.jpgIt’s September so, of course lots of folks have football on the brain. Yours truly included. That’s probably why I thought it might be interesting to think about how huddles in football relate to the daily huddles and huddle boards that many organizations use to manage their improvement efforts. I decided to Google the word huddle and found the following passage in the Wikipedia entry for “huddle.”

“In sport, a huddle is an action of a team gathering together, usually in a tight circle, to strategize, motivate or celebrate. It is a popular strategy for keeping opponents insulated from sensitive information, and acts as a form of insulation when the level of noise in the venue is such that normal on-field communication is difficult. Commonly the leader of the huddle is the team captain and it is the captain who will try to inspire his fellow team members to achieve success. Similarly, after an event a huddle may take place to congratulate one another for the team’s success, or to commiserate a defeat.”

 

I might be alone, but I think there’s a lot to chew on here.

“… a huddle is an action of a team gathering together, usually in a tight circle, to strategize, motivate or celebrate.”

Your team may gather around a physical or digital huddle board to strategize, but how often is this time also used to motivate or celebrate? When daily huddles become dry update sessions, a lot of potential is left on the table. You’ve got your team gathered, why not use the moment to fire them up and broadcast achievements?

It is a popular strategy for keeping opponents insulated from sensitive information …”

This sentence reminded me of a drawback of physical huddle boards. Because the information is only available in one place it is insulated. But presumably, there are no “opponents” in your organization. Everyone is on the same team so it makes much more sense to make sure that information is available to anyone who needs it, wherever they happen to be. Digital huddle boards make break down silos to make that information accessible to everyone.

“… acts as a form of insulation when the level of noise in the venue is such that normal on-field communication is difficult.”

When everyone is spread out and working on their daily tasks, the “level of noise” can be overwhelming. Full inboxes…ringing phones…chirping instant messengers.  Huddles are a great way to block out the distractions for a few minutes and focus on the improvement work that might otherwise fall through the cracks.

“… it is the captain who will try to inspire his fellow team members to achieve success.”

In a football game, the definition of success is clear – winning the game. In business, success can be defined in many ways. I wonder how many leaders bring a clear definition of success into the huddle? I also like the reminder in this sentence that the captain is not just the leader of the team, she is on it as well.

… after an event, a huddle may take place to congratulate one another for the team’s success …”

There’s that idea of celebration again.

“… or to commiserate a defeat.” 

Huddles are the perfect opportunity to do a post mortem on an attempt at improvement that just didn’t work. What can we do better next time? Are there different processes or tools that should be tried?

I doubt that the person who penned this passage was thinking about business huddles or huddle boards at all, but I’m glad I happened across this food for thought.  

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Topics: Daily Improvement

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