Seize the morning, seize the day!

"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra."

-Jimmy Johnson

Jimmy Johnson is one of the greatest football coaches in American football. He understood that giving a little extra, in the beginning, made all the difference in the end. Morning team huddles are like that. Initially, you might even think there isn't time, but in time you will realize that they make all the difference.

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Morning Huddle Tips:

The morning huddle should be quick and lively with a bit of fun.

  • Timing is everything! Start and end on time. Be brief and concise in the sharing of information. Bigger issues that need brainstorming and planning should be scheduled for another time.

  • Although a quick stand-up meeting it is a time for everyone to connect just like a football huddle before each play.

  • Start and end the meeting the same way to create a shared ritual.

  • The team huddle will set the tone for the day, so be positive. Start with good news or something positive from the previous day.

  • Be prepared with an agenda that will relay information; don't wing it:

    • Game strategy: share figures of how you are doing against our target, status update.

    • Coverage: attendance and shared awareness of who needs help.

    • Goal: focus on the priorities of the day, organize the workload for the day, and plan for coverage for the day.

    • Heads up: where are the opportunities and issues. Intel: share the "ah-ha!" learning.

    • Touch down dance: celebrate the wins, give a compliment, ask team members to make an appreciation statement for another team member, or share a team cheer.

  • Consider a whiteboard as a Huddle Board to create Visual Management of metrics, issues, ideas, and wins that can be updated throughout the day.

  • Agree to talk about things that matter and unite the team, and not a place to chit-chat, whine, complain or have side conversations.

  • When bigger issues arise, schedule a meeting for just that issue.

  • Consider using a ball that is tossed from one person to the next so that each person has an opportunity to be heard.

  • The facilitator should communicate in a conversational style rather than a one-way conversation.

  • Eye contact is essential along with active listening.

  • Consider taking turns as the facilitator, if appropriate.


Morning Huddle Practice Benefits:

  • Improved communication between team members.

  • Better coverage of the practice.

  • Provides an opportunity to share concerns and receive feedback.

  • Improves workflow. When team members start the day together they have a common understanding of the priorities and plan to address any issues.

  • Teamwork mindset; morning huddles create awareness of what is going on in each other's work.

  • Creates a teamwork culture along with ownership and accountability that is proactive instead of reactive.

  • Supports organizational goals toward becoming a higher reliability organization in quality and safety.

  • Initiatives and safety concepts get distributed throughout the team for common understanding and reduced misconceptions.

  • In addition to reducing email traffic, it is more timely than an email as everyone receives the information together and has a chance to add any information they know.

Morning Huddle Patient Benefits:

  • Better care; with a review or "scrub" of the patient record there is less chance of a gap in care or awareness of specific needs of the patient.

  • Holistic care; the care team functions toward a specific patient goal together from all their areas of care.

  • Faster service; with preparedness the day runs smoother for the entire system.

  • Depending on the size of the practice, sometimes medical assistants and providers have a separate morning huddle to review the patient schedule it can look like this:

    • MA "scrubs the chart" looking for care gaps or high priority items such as preventative care, disease management, and identifying missing information.

    • Plan for continuity issues such as a special care tray in the exam room but avoid too many tasks as the point is to stay on schedule.

    • If there is a health team on staff such as dietitians, social workers, behavioral health; all who provide care attend. Avoid too many tasks - the point of the huddle is to provide the best care and to stay on schedule.

Team huddles can have a huge impact on patient care when the healthcare team functions with a team mindset and patient focus. The morning huddle provides a time and place for active listening, active communication with multiple participants, and shared knowing and learning. If you would be interested in a morning huddle workshop or online training, please contact us.