NFL and College Football seasons are underway. That means players across the country have been studying their playbooks. Some are more complicated than others, but all are essential—they explain not just what to do but why, and how the plan might change on the fly with just a nod or a hand signal.
Show up on day one without knowing the playbook and go find yourself a nice seat on the bench.
Whether you’re the owner of a company or a sales associate, you need a playbook, too. How else will you know who your target customer is or how to approach them? If the potential customer says X, what will your response be?
The quarterback calls a simple go route. You are to run as fast as you can in a straight line–but now the corner backs off the line. Does your playbook say to stick with it, or should the quarterback and wide receiver adjust and do a simple wide receiver quick pass? The quarterback touches his wrist signaling something, do you know what? You better, cause Coach is watching. Pressure is on. Don’t make a mistake here.
But you know the playbook because you studied it. You made the phone calls—all 100 of them. You LinkedIn with 250 people that fit your target market. You asked for referrals from your 10 best clients. You gave everyone you talked to a similar message. It wasn’t easy. Many people didn’t want to talk with you and some hung up on you. Some changed the play without your approval, because you don’t control what they think. But you’ve done everything right–so far.
The quarterback’s touch of his wrist means a pump fake to get the corner to run up on you and then a go route. The ball is snapped, pump fake pass to you, you stutter, the corner bites on it, you speed past him with the go route, you are wide open, here comes the ball–
–and it is 10 yards over-thrown. You did everything right. The quarterback did almost everything right, he just didn’t have enough time. The offensive line couldn’t block well enough and the quarterback was about to get hit, so he threw a poor pass. You did good work, but Coach gets on the offensive line for not blocking and doesn’t seem to even notice you.
Having a plan doesn’t mean everything is automatically going to work out in your favor. Things happen that you can’t control and you don’t win every game. But on the field or in business, having a detailed plan, a playbook, simplifies the decisions you have to make in the heat of the moment. And getting everybody literally on the same page is the quickest way to make sure you and your colleagues can really play together as a team.
Coming soon: not worrying about what everyone thinks of you; surrounding yourself with the best team; and, of course, planning for the big game!