Friday 16 September 2016

KM and the team playbook

The sports playbook is a good analogy for a strategic knowledge asset in business.

Image from wikipedia
The sort of thing you find in an NFL playbook
In the American football league, the playbook is a sacred and valued bible of team strategy, containing the details of all in-field moves and tactics. It's an accumulation of decades' worth of knowledge, continually tweaked and perfected, and coded into diagrams and shorthand jargon. It's the first thing the new signing gets handed at the start of the season, and the first thing they give up when they leave.

Each playbook is kept strictly secret, and although there is leakage  of knowledge when people swap teams, no individual player knows  every facet of every play - they tend to know only their own part. Also pretty soon the playbook will evolve and improve, leaving the individuals knowledge behind.

However the new player moving into a team has the playbook immediately to hand as a learning tool, a briefing aid, and a reference work. Often the playbook is loaded onto a hackproof iPad or tablet for quick and easy use, for the player to carry at all times (except on the field itself).

As Chad Greenway of the Minnesota Vikings says:
"You always have it with you. That's the one thing that's sacred to football. It has all our secrets".
It's no wonder that football teams guard their playbooks jealously.

In business terms, the knowledge assets are the playbooks. 

The knowledge assets, the standard operating procedures, the operational checksheets - all these are the equivalent of the sports playbook.

These knowledge assets need to:
  • cover all aspects of "play";
  • cover teamwork as well as the roles of the individuals;
  • be made instantly available to all staff;
  • be guarded jealously;
  • be available at all times:
  • be tested continually in operation;
  • be updated and continuously tweaked and 
  • be treated as a key competitive asset of the organisation.

Wouldn't it be good if our knowledge workers treated the company knowledge assets as seriously as the NFL players treat their playbook? And if the knowledge assets were just as useful?

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