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If you follow enough sports, you should be familiar with a playbook. It's a set of scripted actions that the team would take to accomplish a specific goal. Why is this reverent in a book for managers? Being a manager means you will run into the same situations repeatedly. There's no reason to ad-lib it each time when you run into a similar (or the same) problem. Instead, you can use your playbook to determine the situation and run the right play. That could be related to onboarding, a type of deliverable, a way to estimate a bid, etc. But you want to spend your time on the unique parts of the play instead of the standard features that don't add value.
When should you make a play?
It would be best if you started thinking about your playbook anytime you run into:
- A repeated situation
- A situation that high risk/high rewards
You should reach for your playbook as soon as you notice you're dealing with the same situation. Either it's something you've dealt with before (and you can use your playbook as a guide), or it's something not in your playbook but should be there. Use the playbook as a guide to run through a checklist, workflow, or whatever you thought previously would help solve the problem. Having a playbook has saved me several times because I remembered how I solved it, but I'd forgotten one item in the workflow that was important.
What should be in a playbook?
Whatever you need to solve the problem you're facing. It could be the personnel mix you had and used. It could be how you talked about it with Finance. It could be a workflow or checklist you wished you'd had the first time. Think of it as the best investment you can make - an investment in your future self. Example items you could denote in a play:
- Workflow - the series of steps (and roles or personnel) you needed to solve the problem
- Checklist - the complete list of things you need to solve the problem. Less process-oriented in a workflow and an excellent initial step. If you find that it has a lot of steps, convert it to a workflow.
- Staffing - the people you talked to and their roles. The roles aspect is more critical than you may think at first, as over time, it's highly likely that
- other resources that you need to run the plan. They may be external entities (e.g., marketing channels you used, recruiting sources for a hiring campaign, etc.) or internal items like funding or resources you need from other business units.
Don't put unique situations in your playbook; that makes little sense and incurs upkeep with little to no ROI.
The other important aspect is actually to review and update your playbook. Everything may remain current, or you may need to update it to change how you think you'd handle the situation. You might also correct some of the personnel listed for staffing changes.
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