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How to Create Your Winning Playbook for Better Team Agility in 6 Steps

Football has returned, and regardless of whether you’re a sports fan, there seems to be a universal feeling of excitement at this time of year. Perhaps even more so now, as we look to our traditions and routines for some semblance of normalcy in an otherwise uncertain time. But from a business perspective, there is one great lesson that I have taken from sports that goes beyond just the entertainment factor: The Playbook, and its critical impact in wins versus losses.

In a previous blog, I shared why a Playbook (versus a “cookbook”) can help leaders adapt to rapid changes and reset our critical thinking and problem-solving approaches. Now I want to share with you how to do this in just 6 steps. You’ll arm your team with a guide of strategies to achieve better team agility.

Six Steps to Better Team Agility

  1. When your team does something well, it will usually stand out in your memory. Write it down. By capturing the strategies or techniques that your team applies to do something well or solve a tough problem, you’ve taken the first step in creating a “Playbook.”
  2. Next, reflect on what your team (or yourself) did not do well. What was the technique or tool that was applied, and what made it unsuccessful? Was it the wrong strategy? Or was it the implementation?
  3. Ask your team: What are some techniques they have seen from previous teams or other organizations that worked well?*Note that in the first three steps above, the focus is on team engagement: what worked well, what didn’t work well, and best practices. You can leverage this to solve problems and change attitudes. For example, you hear someone say, “Our project status meetings are always chaotic. We get stuck on the first issue.” You respond with, “OK, guys. Who has seen a project status meeting run well? Tell us more about it.”
  4. Review the lists of items from above and determine the essential steps. Be precise and clear. Then to formalize it, you teach them how to come up with one Play internally. Design your Play and go from there.
  5. Once you have completed step #4 for a total of five Plays, create your list (thinks “table of contents”!) and share it with your team. Resolve to “test” them over the next 2 weeks.
  6. At the end of two weeks, conduct a “Lessons Learned”. Review with the team how the Plays worked–were they implemented correctly? Were the results positive? If not, how can the Plays be adjusted? Were they applied to the wrong situation? Don’t give up and abandon the technique when you meet a little resistance. Instead, stop and modify. Think about our sports analogy: What would a winning coach do?

As you begin to share, discuss, and apply per #5 and #6 above; within a few months, your Playbook will be established! Once you have your initial Plays and a rhythm instilled in your team, continue to identify more opportunities to build up your Playbook.  Be sure to give your team time to learn the Plays well before creating new ones; otherwise, you risk creating confusion and negating the purpose of the Playbook.

To help you get started, check out the PowerPlays™ section on my website. You can also get my guide for leaders, which breaks down how you can use three of my top recommended Plays.