Sunday, March 16, 2008

BUBs (Battlefield Update Briefs) - The Ultimate Morning Huddles

Most staff meetings or morning huddles usually degenerate into the same, meaningless, discussions. Each participant takes a few minutes to update the boss on what they or their team are working on. Those who are not speaking, are probably not paying attention -- until it is their turn to speak. It reminds me of a sprinkler. Around the table we go...each head popping up to spray their information at the boss...then back down again. Man...I hate those meetings!

There is another way. Military units conduct Battlefield Update Briefings with great success. They are designed to synchronize all of the activities of the unit -- with each other and within the framework of the unit mission and the leader's overall intent. Everyone listens to ensure they understand the big picture of what is happening and that their activities are structured accordingly. They usually occur at the beginning of the day but can be more frequent depending on the operational tempo of the organization.

Here are a few key highlights for successful BUBs:

-- Start with the big picture. The Operations staff usually begins by highlighting what is happening in the higher echelons, what units to the left and right are doing, and what key events have occurred since the last BUB. The lead intelligence officer identifies what the enemy (competition) is doing and gives his estimate for what might happen next. The goal is to create a Common Operational Picture for the team -- one in which everyone shares the same picture of what is happening throughout the organization.

-- Review key metrics. For a military unit this may be number of people and their location and disposition, status on key pieces of equipment, or progress toward key milestones. For a business unit this may be financials (sales, revenue, overhead) or progress toward quarterly goals.

-- Synchronize. BUBs serve as the forum to align ongoing subordinate actions. If the activities of one subordinate unit are in conflict with the overall unit purpose, or with another unit, they must be adjusted accordingly. All parties must leave the BUB with a full understanding of what is happening, what is important, and what they must do within the overall context of the team's mission.

-- Everyone listens. There is no excuse for missing the BUB. Radios are turned down, phones are unanswered. And from lowest ranking trooper to the unit commander, all focus is on the BUB. Everyone must have their head in the game and understand what is happening across the front.

-- Keep it short and focused. Use a consise format -- and stay with it. BUBs are not the forum for deep thinking or idle chatter. Get on with it. Follow the script.

-- Review timelines and key milestones. Identify upcoming suspenses and hot action items.
-- Empower everyone to speak out if they have questions or if they sense a synchronization issue. This is a session for the entire team, not just the leader. Create an environment in which the lowest trooper, who understands the big picture, can speak out if they believe something is wrong. That is empowerment.

-- Close with a review of top priorities. This is usually the opportunity for the unit commander to highlight what is important and what needs to happen to ensure synchronization of the team's efforts. It is also the leader's best chance to inspire his team with a positive, mission-focused message that can drive the team to success.

The BUB is the military's version of the Morning Huddle. If done correctly, they can help avoid the "sprinkler syndrome." They can focus the team, synchronize them around a common purpose, and send them out with a winning message. That's Leader Business.

Post a comment. Your thoughts on morning meetings -- or BUBs -- are most appreciated! Or...drop me a note if I can help turn your "sprinkler-style" staff meetings into Battlefield Update Briefs! Hooah!

1 comment:

chris d said...

great advice, thank you! Morning huddles had become boring and repetative this helped focus and re-energise them.