What Business and Human Resources can Learn from Football

Would a football coach ever think about playing and winning at football without their playbook? A playbook contains offensive, defensive and special team plays with techniques and vocabulary relating to game plays as well as information about team formations. Football playbook's are given to each team member at the start of the season's training period.


Why dont’ companies hand out a corporate playbook to all new employees. If companies are serious about winning and dominating their markets you would think they would engage their employees by educating, training and arming them with key information to help them win. By having a playbook everyone in the company knows what kind of talent profile the company is looking for and how to also sell the company to new recruits.


Human resources should orient, train and test new employees on their  knowledge of the corporate playbook. A corporate playbook should be concise, informative and  to the point. Each section should be point form, a one pager at most and contain easy language to communicate. Make it fun and keep it light. The playbook should be fairly small and contain less than 20-30 pages. Key sections of the playbook should contain the following:

  1. Company Vision
  2. Historical Overview
  3. Key Competitors
  4. Key Supplier and Co-petitors
  5. Key Differentiators
  6. Culture
  7. Brand
  8. Hiring Philosophy
  9. Company finances and you
  10. What to do if?


The playbook should be updated on a yearly basis but should for the most part remain consistent. A playbook is critical if your company wants to win as it engages employees to share and k now the corporate vision and the key elements that will get it there.


Let me know what your thoughts are or if you require more information on how to design your corporate playbook.


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Views: 10483

Comment by Bill Schultz on October 25, 2011 at 3:21pm

I think some companies do this.  Matter of fact the most effective ones are done in on line modules.  

Where you have x amount of time to complete each module and you get little reminders until you do.



Comment by Tim Spagnola on October 25, 2011 at 4:47pm

My first firm did offer such a playbook. It was a helpful tool and as they continued to grow it really kept folks new/old on the same page for the most part. So over time it really helped shape the overall culture. As you suggested Francois- they also kept it updated on a regular basis. We all had these large 3 ring binders and from time to time we would get new inserts. Looking back on it now it was a great tool and have over the years gone back to it for a thing or two. 

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on October 26, 2011 at 6:26pm

considering the number of employees that can't even be bothered to make sure their benefit elections are done on time I'm curious has to how many would actually read the playbook (online or otherwise).  Great idea in theory but most employees care about and focus on their specific roles / place in the company and often miss the big picture.  My company has new hire orientation plus ongoing training, I just don't know how much is retained other than what specifically affects the employee's exact role.

Comment by Francois Guay on October 26, 2011 at 8:40pm

Great comments @bill, @tim and @amy

| think the key is as is everything in a company is that the CEO endorses it and makes it a key piece of "going forward" as well you have to ensure employees are being recognized for good behavior associated with using the playbook. extra sales, great hires, etc...you get what you measure. It's a culture change but one that could be invaluable to a business that believes in it.

Comment by Danielle Powers on November 8, 2011 at 9:28pm

I believe that using this play book as part of the recruitment process would be beneficial for corporate recruiters and agency alike. Even if each department or hiring manager is not on the same page, this has some accountability. It also helps a new employee become acclimated and feel more secure in their decision to come aboard, especially since most training is OJT. One way to increase engagement with this, especially if it is not in place fully is to have the groups assist in forming what the key points are.

I agree that many companies have this but it is not centralized or continuous. I also am not sure that it is used as effectively as possible.

I love the idea of football and business, I was floored when Hillis took medical advice from his agent: http://americandreamrevised.com/2011/10/12/hillis-takes-medical-adv... (shameless plug but I had to share it with you)

Comment by Francois Guay on November 9, 2011 at 10:32am



Some great points. And who doesnt love sports to business references? So much fun. 

As always saying something and doing it is the difference between mediocre and great companies.


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