Daily Huddles – The 10/480 Rule

Effective organizations plan and then execute using the strengths of each team member, whether a football club or Lowe's (go early enough and you will see their whole team planning the day, which they often do twice a day). Like everything we do, we have combined research with practice to identify effective ways to empower the team to focus on planning and executing using Elevate Systems. We believe strongly in planning and have found that effective daily team huddles are the 10 minutes that make the other 480 (assuming an 8-hour work day) much more effective – that's even better than the 80/20 rule!

What Makes an Effective Huddle?

Showing up on time, clocking in, eating breakfast, and having a conversation in the break room is not the same as an effective huddle. Here is how we define an effective huddle:

  • Everyone attends (including, obviously, the doctor)
  • Everyone shows up on time
  • Everyone comes prepared and plays a part
  • The huddle form is used
  • Most importantly, the huddle focuses on patients coming in that day and how the office can better serve them

Elevate uses a custom huddle form that is posted on a clipboard by the break room on our Elevate Communications wall. This way everyone can see it (including those who work later in the day). There is only one form in a central location, which allows everyone to fill in their part.

Huddles are held 15 minutes prior to opening. Crucially, attendance is taken, and the form has a spot for that. We found that doctors were the most likely to not show up on time (or at all) for the huddles. This indicates a lack of leadership in the office and is often the most difficult thing to remedy. A little social pressure to show up on time and be a team player tends to solve that problem.

Everyone has a Role

We want everyone to show up on time and this is more likely to happen when everyone plays a part in the huddle. Crucially (and strategically), every team member plays a part in the huddle:

  • Doctors are responsible for reporting 2 things about each new patient for the day. (Doctors contact patients the afternoon before to meet patients over the phone and start building trust early.)
  • Assistants talk about pre-meds, emergency times, and who has unscheduled treatment on the hygiene side
  • Hygienists are responsible for knowing which restorative patients are overdue for cleanings
  • The scheduling coordinator is responsible for the pre-block board
  • The financial coordinator is responsible for patients with overdue balances
  • The office manager reviews production, collections, and new patients

Each of these should take 1-2 minutes. Then someone from the team provides an inspirational message, positive patient story, or talks about one of the office's core values. Simple.

Morning Huddles Start in the Afternoon

While the daily huddle is typically held in the AM, preparation for an effective huddle begins the afternoon before the huddle. Each team member should gather the proper data to fill out the form and be prepared for the next morning. With consistent effort this does not take much time. In fact, when you do not hold effective huddles, you will likely spend more time trying to take care of all of the issues in your practice that would be avoidable by holding huddles every day.

Systems + People + Training

Huddles are a crucial part of our Elevated Patient Experience system. We believe in the power of systems, hiring the right people that align with your core values and vision, and ongoing training for continuous improvement. Of course, huddles are just a start. We have found that 1-hour weekly meetings (we call them “Solutions' Meetings” so that they don't become a gossip or blaming session – we've been there) are crucial all the time, whether the office is slow or busy. In addition, Elevate offices come together and participate in Leadership Meetings three times a year.

We hope you catch the vision and experience what an effective daily huddle can do for your practice.


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About the Author


Chris Brown, MBA, PhD, is the CEO of Elevate Practices and enjoys helping dentists understand the business side of their practice. He brings real-world experience, working in dental practices for multiple years, while also adding his academic experience and advanced education in entrepreneurship and small business management.