Every A-Player Needs a Playbook

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I recently worked on a project that included the creation of a Sales Playbook, and it sparked an idea worth sharing. What would happen if you created a Career Playbook that captures your methods for success?

Personal Playbook Page

Mindmap from Kelli's Playbook

Could you use it as a competitive advantage if you are job hunting? Perhaps you’re craving an opportunity to do and be more where you already work, and you want to prove you’re ready.

If a Personal Playbook did nothing other than map what makes your methods unique, would it be worth your effort?

My answer? Yes. Definitely Yes.

What Do I Mean By a Playbook?

Just as in sports, it’s a notebook containing narratives, lists and diagrams of the plays you have practiced. It is the blueprint for how you operate in business scenarios. This is the HOW, not simply the WHAT.

Your Playbook is a highly-personalized tool that reflects YOUR direct experience. It’s your reference, your bible, your go-to resource.  It is your proof of concept.

Fast Company founding editor Bill Taylor wrote The 10 Questions Every Change Agent Must Answer, and in it he asked ‘What Are You the Most of?’  That is the guts of your Playbook. It’s the User Manual of what you do best.  It isn’t your memoir or a journal nor is it a lesson book.

Your Playbook is a collection of YOUR tactics and best practices (not those of your favorite guru). It’s not a history book; it is a living-breathing body of knowledge about your methods and rituals.

Why Write a Playbook — More Than Just Intrinsic Value

No matter what type of thinker you are or whether your strengths are strategic or tactical, a Playbook will boost your market value.  I came up with 5 reasons to do my own book:

  1. High performers have a methodology. Own yours, because it sets you apart.
  2. Methods and rituals do co-exist with creativity. Even the most spontaneous people are predictably spontaneous.
  3. You can’t scale without process. When you articulate a scalable methodology, you will blow the door open for new career opportunities.
  4. Prove to yourself that you are a repeatable success story and not just a tale of one-hit wonders.
  5. If you want to jump industries, you have to prove you can transfer your knowledge.  Your process makes that possible.
Timeline Exercise

Brainstorm technique: Timeline your highlights of a key position.

The Content: Part Ritual, Part Process, Part Magic.

If you’re still with me on this idea, you may have guessed it is no small task to create. Let’s be real about this project: creating a Playbook demands an honest look inside of yourself and a fair bit of writing.

What goes into your Playbook? Simply put: any (or every) scenario that is part of your regular work life.

Here is part of the list I created for my own Playbook:

  1. How do you (begin to) understand your customers?
  2. How do you gather competitive intelligence?
  3. How do you seek understanding of the formal and informal communication norms inside a company?
  4. Where do you look for new ideas outside of the company?
  5. Who do you turn to for advice?
  6. How do you make an unforgettable impression?
  7. What is your decision process?
  8. How do you break down the walls of communication with people who are NOT like you?
  9. How do you communicate most effectively (i.e. what do people need to know about the way you do it)? This includes all channels of media.
  10. How do you cross cultural barriers?
  11. What are the signals that you’re stressed or over-committed?
  12. How do you know when you’re short on resources? What steps do you take to get what you need?
  13. What feeds (and kills) your creativity?
  14. Who is in your power base?
  15. What motivates you? (don’t skip this, because you need to be very clear with your own boss about this.)

3 Ways to Start the Process

  • Replay your success reel. Think through your career in 5-year increments and identify the 1-2 remarkable achievements that stand out.  What made those possible? What did you face, and (most importantly) how did you make it work?

    Left Brain - Right Brain Example

    Inside the pages of my separate Vision and Mission Book, an ongoing project.

  • Look at where you’ve prevailed against all odds. Your biggest lessons often come from there.
    List the project or the job or the company. Explore how and why it didn’t meet your expectations (in some cases, maybe it did, but it fell short of someone else’s).
  • List your Always and Nevers. This is your sacred ground and the deal breakers.  Know where you draw the line with colleagues and clients.

The good news is that you already have the content for your Playbook. The content is in your head,  but in order to make it tangible, you need to invest the time and discipline to put it on paper.

Have you done something like this? I’d love to hear about it.

Great Additional Reading: