Why a Playbook Matters
Ask John Madden…he’ll tell you the best football coaches rely on a playbook to succeed. Politicans often refer to their “playbook,” the course of action that (hopefully) outlines their road to election. And where would actors be without a script?
So why is it that so many executives still expect their employees to operate “off the cuff,” so to speak.
Creating a playbook is essential to executing a business. Without one, employees will come up with their own ways to get things done. While we highly support those people who bring new ideas and innovation to the job, it is critical that an organization have a baseline for who they are and where they want to go -- and a coherent playbook for how to get there.
Many companies start off on the right foot. New employees often go through an orientation process. Learning about a company and how it operates is essential to employee indoctrination and subsequent performance. But sometimes in the throes of growth, time becomes such a precious commodity that employees – new and old alike – are thrown into the ring with a single directive…”get the job done.” In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, there isn’t room to “just do it” for a sales rep or an engineer.
There is always time to build a playbook for your business and share it with your employees. I’m not talking an encyclopedia-like tome that laboriously details every nuance of every policy and procedure. But every company does need clarity regarding their operational processes -- product development, sales, customer lifecycle and marketing to name a few.
From my vantage point in small, medium and large companies, it’s clear that one of the key challenges that regularly crop up is that the “handshakes” between functions tend to create the most tension. While not altogether surprising, it’s very avoidable if company leadership engages in an effort to document or create a playbook for their business process -- especially for those areas where multiple and cross-functions are involved.
How how many times have you heard a sales rep say, “this lead isn’t qualified,” but the marketing team has characterized it as qualified. Just as often you’ll find an accounting team asking for sales to accurately convey buyer information to enable proper order booking. In both cases the likely culprit for the inefficiency is lack of process understanding across functions, not a deliberate intent to ignore the other groups needs.
After all, a business is a team, and just like a football team, if a play is called for a pass, but none of the receivers are looking for the ball, it’s likely to fall incomplete…a lost opportunity.
Designing the right process is both science and art. The science is really about basic workflow, responsibilities, documentation, and systems. The art is in understanding your organization and its capacity for growth, innovation and success.
What kinds of playbook(s) do you use? How have they evolved?
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