If hiring is an act of optimism, as CEO Tim Masson is fond of saying, then our Playbook is the schematic which puts that optimism to work. What is a Playbook? Philosophically it is “a set of strategies for conducting a business campaign; an elaborate and systematic plan of action.” Practically, it’s a 1 page book that includes answers to the following six sections: Why do we exist, how do we behave, what do we do, how will we succeed, what is our thematic goal for 2013 & what are our standard operating objectives.

The Playbook sits on every desk across the company. Its creation will ensure that going forward, all employees know and understand our strategies and how we wish to conduct business. I’ve been using it to confirm that my daily decisions and actions align with the impacts that we intend to achieve. Once understood, it’s a powerful tool.

The ‘Dragons’ at Peer Forum

Our implementation of the “Playbook” is based on the teachings and books of Patrick Lencioni, specifically his latest book “The Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business.” It’s about context, integration and practicality. He posits that “any organization that wants to maximize success must come to embody two basic qualities: it must be smart and it must be healthy.” Smart companies are good at business fundamentals such as strategy, marketing, finance and technology. Healthy companies have minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity and low turnover. Health trumps intelligence!

Reading Lencioni’s book was the easy part. The hard part was putting it all together in the context of our organization.

Initially, I thought we would be able to put the Playbook together at our Leadership Team level but after three days at an off-site meeting, it became clear we needed more input. So we convened an intense one day meeting, our Peer Forum, in July where people of “influence” from within the company gathered to discuss strategy. Every department and most branches had representation; it was an incredibly fun and productive day. One attendee said “That was one of the most engaging strategic meetings I’ve been a part of in the past 20 years.”

I could not be more pleased with the impact this meeting had on the direction of our company. It was fundamental in forging the Playbook. The biggest outcome from the day was the decision to make Collaboration our Thematic Goal. The goal is supported by 6 defining objectives that touch on specific areas targeted for growth throughout the organization. The defining objectives are reviewed and rated every week by the Leadership Team to help make sure we’re on target throughout the year.

Our 3 core values are published in our Playbook

I will admit that the way the Playbook is published, the information appears dense. I wouldn’t expect anyone to understand it just by picking it up and glancing at it. Thorough discussion is needed to understand its content and by now, all our employees have had at least one discussion with either our CEO or myself around the information it contains and how to apply it to our business.

I’m looking forward to seeing how our Playbook evolves in the coming years! We’ll publish a new version every year as our Thematic Goal and Operating Objectives change and evolve.  As we all push towards our common goal this year, I’m excited to see our ‘organizational health’ continually improve.