The Daily Huddle

The Daily Huddle is an important part of the Last Planner® System, and plays an important role in supporting workflow reliability. Sometimes people are tempted to forego the Daily Huddle, believing it unnecessary. Common reactions from front line supervisors, whether design project managers or construction superintendents, include:

  • “I already know what is happening.”
  • “We can’t afford the time to meet every day.”
  • “Not enough work happens in a day to warrant a daily huddle.”

These reactions miss the point of the Daily Huddle. The huddle is a brief meeting by groups of interdependent players. The meetings are stand-up and close to the work. The agenda is short, with each participant discussing what commitments they have completed, and what commitments they need help with or cannot deliver. Huddles are completed within fifteen minutes.

In response to the first reaction above, “I already know what is happening,” it is important to understand that the lean respect for people principle guides us to understand the importance of everyone on the project understanding what is happening, especially with work they need for them to fulfill their commitments. This understanding needs to be direct, and not filtered through a central person. The huddle format allows this communication to take place in a practical and timely way.

As for the, “We can’t afford the time to meet every day,” not meeting for fifteen minutes can result in hours of wasted work through the lack of coordination. Those hours of wasted time are what projects truly cannot afford.

While the, “Not enough work happens in a day to warrant a daily huddle,” is less frequent, it is sometimes a concern expressed on smaller projects. Smaller projects are no less susceptible to daily changes, interruptions, and surprises. Smaller projects also normally have shorter schedules and tighter budgets, meaning there is less time to adjust to changes, interruptions, and surprises.

Still not convinced? Give the huddles a chance. Most daily huddle resistors find that once they participate in huddles for a few weeks that the huddles are extremely valuable. Not only do the huddles provide information on needed plan adjustments in a timely manner – they are also important in terms of allowing a project team to become a tighter unit, focused both on performance and having fun.

Comments

Tom,
When you you suggest that a huddle occur during the day?
I always thought the close of the day was best because it gave trade foremen the opportunity to understand if the work was on track and an evening to adjust the next day’s activities if necessary.

Aaron,

Yes, we normally recommend that a field project team huddles toward the end of the day, about 90 minutes before the work ends. The reason for this recommendation is that if an adjustment to the deployment of people and/or materials needs to be made the affected foremen will have time to make necessary arrangements, ideally allowing the work to quickly get back on plan. The timing of the huddle is less a concern during the design phase because work/plan variances that are identified in the huddle are less likely to impact the physical deployment of people.

For companies utilizing tiered huddles, where front line worker huddles are held and then followed by one or more management huddles, a morning huddle is recommended so that issues needing to be addressed at a senior management level can be surfaced that same day. These company huddles are distinct from project huddles.

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