The Playbook

A playbook is a powerful tool. It captures best practices. It provides a guide for those new to the team and its plays. It expedites learning. It increases the likelihood of success. But much like a defense that encounters an offense that it has never seen before, the playbook can become a document worthy only of being used as kindling.

What are the potential problems of slavishly following the “playbook”? First, it can be wrong. The foundation for great leadership is humility. Humility allows one to consider that a proven playbook may yet not be appropriate for “this” situation. Second, it can create unnecessary havoc. Successfully marching toward a cause that ultimately fails is an avoidable disaster. Third, the playbook creates “drones.” Drones follow the playbook even when it is obvious that it is failing. That is why defenses facing a new offense ultimately get blown out. They keep trying the same strategies that worked in the past. Finally, the playbook destroys morale. It destroys the morale of those that attempt but fail in following it. It also destroys the morale of those that it inflicts it damage upon.

Be careful when using a playbook. Hold on to it loosely. As Bob Lewis says: “There are no such things as best practices. There are only practices that fit best.”

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