The Generosity of the Huddle

My Thursday column for today is an update of an older Talking Story post which was originally called Another Take on Meetings: The 5-Point Plan. It came back to focus for me recently while bringing the communication module I have for SLC within the MWA3P program to a local management group: When I’m asked to help “improve communication in our organization,” one of my early questions in response will be “tell me about the meetings you regularly schedule.”

When meetings are held well, you can really engineer a dramatic turnaround in the allover effectiveness of communication and productivity, because people feel they have a predictable, reliable and valuable way to bank the knowledge currency they need for all subsequent work. The football analogy I reference in my 5-Point Meeting Plan is a good one to think about, for the inherent messages within a huddle are:

You’re part of this team for good reason, and

You’re part of this huddle for good reason— the time to perform is now

No one else is playing your position, so listen up

We only have so much time to huddle, and
The information we share within it is crucial

This information is knowledge which will help you engage with the rest of us better

This knowledge that we alone share, will help us win

The rest of us are counting on you to help us execute the entire play

We can’t do this without you

However together, we can do this, and we will succeed

Everyone understands how vitally important those huddles are.

KÄ“ia manawa
is a Hawaiian concept that lives within Ka la hiki ola. It means right now. This is the time. This is it. The here and now. There was a fitting football analogy that Kahu Billy Mitchell would share with us when he felt we needed more trust in ourselves and in the positive certainty of Ka lā hiki ola, the dawning of a new day. He’d point out that once the game is in play, it becomes time for everything you’ve practiced for. It’s time to perform. Once the quarterback calls the play in the huddle and you take your place on the line, you had better be ready to go, to perform magnificently. Kahu would open his arms wide and bellow out at us: “The blackboard is not coming on the field!” In the quiet seconds that followed and he leveled his gaze at each of us, we knew the thought of his unspoken words were, so what are you waiting for?

Managing with Aloha, page 225

Huddles are generous because players are acknowledged, valued, and trusted. It’s a generosity they thrive on.

If you’re a player on the sidelines, chances are you are aching inside for the coach to look your way and send you out on the field to join in. Think of the value of Kākou: inclusiveness, and the Language of We. It’s a privilege to be included, and it’s an affirmation of the talent, energy, and team-player reputation you have.

Different from football, huddles can take all kinds of shapes and forms in a workplace because of the many team dynamics that are in play. Everyone can be involved.

And make no mistake about it, meetings can indeed have all the generosity of huddles.

On today: Huddle up; Meet Well.


Our Ho‘ohana this month is on Lokomaika‘i, the giving and generosity “of good heart.”

The Generosity of Silence
The Generosity of Laughter
The Generosity of Listening
The Generosity of Delegation

The Generosity of Mission-Driven Publishing
A Blogger’s Generosity


  1. says

    Excellent post, Rosa! This resonates with me very much. Lisa has a similar coverage of “huddles” in her “Focus Like a Laser Beam” book and I think it is something I haven’t used, but should have been, for quite a long time.
    In addition to getting the “we” feel back into work, it gives a way to stop the frenetic pace of the day and get out of the tyranny of the urgent.
    Besides not using huddles enough, the other thing I have to guard against is leaving out people in the huddles. It’s never intentional, but sometimes I realize I’ve just had a huddle and forgotten to pull in someone who really should have been involved.
    I think practice will make me better at this.

  2. says

    Mahalo for weighing in on this Dwayne, for your honesty is so wonderful! The huddles-which-are-not-meetings which Lisa writes of, do connect really well with the “practice” of which you speak, and you’ve subtly coached us here… we can all use more practice! Our huddles are about connection, something everyone can use more of, and under the guise of communicating information we can nurture great working relationships with each other.

  3. says

    Our MWA value for July 2007 is Ho‘okipa

    In retrospect, I often think how lucky I was to have my early career in what Hawai‘i dubs “the hospitality business,” the nickname for the tourism and travel industry management businesses which became the lifeblood of our islands once urbanization

  4. says

    For the BEST 15 minutes in the workday, Huddle.

    Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday! We certainly did. The four-day Thanksgiving weekend is somewhat predictable for us ”“ and very happily so ”“ centered on 3 F’s and a G: Gratitude, with scoops of it for Family,