Through the whole of last year I was working in a project where we tried to avoid meetings as much as possible. When we wanted to discuss something among the developers we will just call for a huddle. A huddle just consisted on quickly getting together around somebody’s computer and having a short chat.

For example, a pair would be working in a part of the application and get to a point where an important design decision was needed. Maybe there was a major issue with how the application was developed or just the pair was stuck and couldn’t get to a solution. The pair would just ask the rest of the team “can we have a huddle?” and the rest of the team would just stop their work and come together.

This could sound a bit intrusive, but once used to it it wasn’t. The huddles were quite quick and to the point. Nobodies time was wasted, everybody collaborated and everybody was aware of others’ work. The team wasn’t too big and everybody was sitting quite close to each other. That helped.

This year I am in a different project. We tend to have meetings for this kind of stuff and I am starting to see quite clearly the benefits of huddles.

Meetings are more time consuming than huddles. Everybody has to totally stop their work, go to a different room and expend some time there. Just the fact of going to a different room makes everybody stay a bit longer. The room has been booked and everybody has left their chairs, so better if we stay a bit longer - just in case. In the other hand, huddles just happen any time. Everybody stops, but quickly goes back to their previous work, so the context switching is smaller.

Another downside of meetings is that they have to be planned, while huddles are more spontaneous. If I am stuck or I have to make a decision that involves the team I can just summon a huddle just right now right here, I don’t need to book a meeting, check for everybodiy’s availability, etc. I can just get unblocked right now and here!

For a more productive dev environment brings huddles to your team!