The Huddle

Editor's Note: This letter was written for the 2018 Spring/Summer Arbor Light magazine, a biannual publication of Concordia University Ann Arbor. Catch the newest edition dropping in mailboxes at the end of April. For your free subscription of Arbor Light, email

A successful organizational culture is dependent upon good communication. We have many passionate leaders on the CUAA campus who are accomplishing great things, but if each of those leaders acted outside of the knowledge and cooperation of others on campus we would not be seeing the incredible growth that we’ve been seeing at Concordia over the past few years. Communication has been a key part of our campus’ success, and we work hard to engage in ongoing, effective communication with each other.

One of the ways we work to foster this type of communication at CUAA is through a weekly stand-up meeting I call The Huddle. Much like a quarterback on a football team gathers his teammates into a huddle prior to communicating the next play, I have found a similar strategy works well for the leadership team at CUAA.

Each Wednesday during the school year, a team of leaders gathers in my office to briefly discuss what is happening on campus. The team consists of people you might expect to see in a leadership meeting: myself plus the heads of enrollment, advancement, campus ministry, and our four academic schools—but it also includes some unexpected but intentional faces: the head of our maintenance and grounds, our director of institutional research, and a student representative from the Student Government Association, for example.

The Huddle is done in a stand-up format (i.e., sharing is limited to one to two minutes each) to encourage conciseness, energy, and to-the-point sharing. During our time together, each member of the team takes a moment to tell others in the group what they are doing in their particular area of campus responsibility, focusing on information that might be relevant or of particular interest to the others in the group. Oftentimes, the most important sharing happens when the meeting is over, during the candid conversations that take place as team members head back to their respective corners of campus.

In a world of advancing technology that offers new and varied ways to stay in touch, one could argue that the goal of communication could be accomplished by other means. However, at the end of the day, these meetings are not about citing what is on the docket for the remainder of the week or rattling off a list of to-dos. They are about setting aside time to be relational—in a manner that respects everyone’s valuable time—and they are about applauding the good work that is being done. In this way, we are advancing the mission of Concordia University.

Written by Curt Gielow, Campus Chief Executive

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