No more morning huddle!

For more than 20 years, I have taught the value of having a morning huddle. We’ve produced agendas. We’ve trained and retrained. We’ve spoken about it at seminars, workshops and on-site visits. Now, in what may sound like a contradictory move, we are officially banning the morning huddle. No more. Don’t do it. Save the time and save the hassle.

Here’s why…
What’s in a name? Sometimes, the title or name that we give things ends up taking on so much baggage it becomes difficult to remember the real meaning. Yes, teams huddle on the field, but it is a brief meeting where one person calls the play and everyone yells ‘break’. Well, dentistry isn’t football. In fact, the most effective teams we have worked with don’t have a morning huddle at all. They have transformed the ‘get together and call the play of the day’ morning huddle into something we have coined the ‘Morning Opportunity Meeting’ or MOM for short.
The primary thing that characterises the MOM is its middle name: Opportunity. The primary focus is uncovering, strategising, and planning around the day’s opportunities. Done correctly, everyone has a say and everyone has a part to play. Here are some examples of the opportunities we are talking about…

The finest hour
What’s the best thing that happened yesterday? If you have attended any of our ToPS seminars or workshops, you’ve heard us talk about this important first topic of any MOM. Focus on what worked yesterday that could be an opportunity to duplicate today. Practices that build upon daily successes stay true to the effort of ‘constancy of purpose’, on which the best offices focus.

Unscheduled treatment – doctor’s schedule
Long before the huddle begins, like the afternoon before, someone on the team takes responsibility for looking at the next day’s schedule and reviewing the charts of the patients who are going to see the doctor for restorative treatment. Beyond the treatment that is scheduled, what other potential work do these patients have that is not yet scheduled?

Unscheduled treatment – hygiene
Every afternoon before going home, each hygienist reviews his or her schedule and the corresponding charts for the next day. In most cases, those charts are a gold mine of unscheduled treatment. Knowing what is going on with every patient and where the opportunities are to schedule some of that unscheduled treatment is a big part of the MOM. Letting everyone on the team know who is a candidate to schedule treatment that has been diagnosed but not performed is a critical ingredient for success.

Same-day treatment
The best type of unscheduled treatment is treatment that you could do today with some minor changes in the schedule. Once you know who has what unscheduled treatment, look at the schedule together as a team to see what could be adjusted in the timing to accommodate existing patients who would like to have it done today.

Same-day treatment – new patients
A quick review of each new patient’s ‘New Patient Relationship Form’ will help everyone understand the background and desires of each new patient. Many times the desires that were expressed on the phone when they scheduled will include comments about treatment, problem areas, an interest in whitening, etc. Everyone needs to know where those potential opportunities are in advance.

That’s right! Emergencies can be one of the best opportunities of the day. During your MOM, the best time for emergencies should always be identified.

Openings in the schedule
Everyone has had the experience of looking at the schedule at the morning huddle and seeing holes. Most get that sinking feeling when they see that. Instead, look at them as opportunities. What can be moved around, adjusted, or moved up in order to free up more opportunities?

Tomorrow’s opportunities
What is scheduled for tomorrow? Are there any openings in the schedule? If so, today is the time to make sure everyone on the team knows they are there so everyone can be focused on taking advantage of that opportunity of scheduling patients who say ‘yes’ today on tomorrow’s schedule while they are eager.

Do you take advantage of those opportunities by accident or by design? A well-planned morning opportunity meeting will uncover the potential daily opportunities on which you can act. How do you know if your MOM is effective? The true test is if by the end of the day you consistently produce MORE than you had scheduled at the beginning of the day. If so, you know that you identified the opportunities and acted accordingly. So, say goodbye to the morning huddle, and say hello to MOM, your new morning opportunity meeting. It will transform your day and your productivity.

Steven J Anderson is a founder of several dental organisations including the Total Patient Service Institute (, Crown Council (, and Smiles for Life Foundation ( Over the last 20 years, Steve Anderson has entertained and educated dentist and dental teams around the world and this year is no different as Steve descends upon Dentistry LIVE in London on 7-8 June 2013. If you would like to see Steve in action please call 0800 371 652 to book your place, why not bring two colleagues along with you and you can all attend for just £500 + VAT. For more, visit

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