Creating a Playbook

January 20th

The concept of creating a “playbook” for future leaders should rightly be credited to Jonathan Breul, the Director of iBM’s Center for the Business of Government. We were talking about my pending Leader’s Guide to Transformation last year as he oversaw the progress of a publication that he was supporting. We were reaching for something that would give us an edge in getting noticed when we knew that the communications marketplace would be a crowded one.

The core concept was to create a “playbook” from the comments that were made by a variety of high level interviewees – ideas and concepts that they had found to be valuable.  Scheduling interviews was maddening.  But once in the room a wide variety of government leaders were more than willing to talk about what worked.

Our concept was that from such a playbook someone could assemble a specific gameplan that would fit the particular setting of the agency and the opportunities they could see before them.

There is no better example of the need to individualize a gameplan than the issue of the timing of the launch.  Leaders talk about the value of a “burning platform” to contribute a sense of urgency to an agency.  Having a compelling reason to act (the platform on which you are standing is burning) makes it easier to encourage action in a typically recalcitrant bureaucracy.  But the problem is that in spite of the heat of the moment, the right time to launch a transformation initiative may be more a function of the needs of the customers and the competitors than the ability to encourage movement from reluctant government managers.  Having the right play to call may make the difference between optimal timing and a lesser choice.

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