In order to affect performance in a meaningful and deliberate way, you first have to understand it. This is much more easily said than done in a dynamic and collaborative environment (like yours). Our approach uses the elements of a “game” to start to analyze performance. Like any game, we are going to have an overall objective, a scoring mechanism and rules. These are the pieces of the “playbook” that we try to describe as specifically as possible. We strike the balance between clarity and oversimplification in order to allow you to act confidently in improving performance.
Here is a bit more detail on each component:
The first big question for your “playbook” is: What are we trying to accomplish?
Unlike a real game, our workplace collaborations don’t end, so instead of “winning” we have to define an objective that is directional much like a compass point. A relevant cliché is: This is a journey, not a destination. If everyone is going in the same direction, it is possible to think more about moving forward rather than pushing/pulling against each other. This is an important consensus to be able to achieve, even if only a very high level (e.g. Let’s go West). Disagreement will ensue as to specific coordinates and there will be different expectations as to optimal pace. That said, overt agreement on an overall direction is necessary to underpin productive collaboration.
The area of rules and scoring have to align to this overall direction.
The discussion of rules and constraints begs the question: “How do we set up the game?” Our “rules” can be self-imposed or imposed by others. For example, we may work for an organization that refuses to bribe potential clients. That may be externally imposed (e.g. it is illegal and enforced) or internally imposed (e.g. even if the law of the land allows for it, we don’t do it for ethical reasons). We focus more on the “spirit” of our rules than their “letter.” For our practical purposes, we do not have to define a specific dollar amount or make philosophical determinations of whether taking a client to ball game is indeed a bribe. We will try to pin down some understanding of “how we want to roll,” given the kind of organization we want to be and the environment within which we operate. Like in a game, our “players” are often left to interpret the rules for themselves, which creates situations where not all rules are followed to the letter. Keeping their spirit is our intent.
In our context, “the scoreboard” will provide indicators of results we have achieved, as well as tangible activities that we perform. This is the realm of “red, yellow and green lights” on a corporate dashboard OR the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) dictated to your department (maybe from a Balanced Scorecard). This can also include controllable justifications that “I did my job.” For the purposes of the playbook, we try to answer the question: “What can we look at to get a reasonable sense of how we are performing?” This is distinct from how we “performed” last year, quarter, etc. We are also under no delusions as to the forecasters ability to predict future performance with perfect accuracy.
The end result is a “Playbook” that captures what we can to help us understand (and not forget) the collaboration “game” that we are playing.
- What are we trying to do here?
- What rules do we play by?
- What measures are we paying attention to?
This is a practical working document, not a strategic plan. It is shared with those with whom we are working closely. It helps us answer the question “Is this important or not?” for opportunities that present themselves, as well as conflicts that arise.
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