Throw Out The User Manual

One of the biggest traps we fall into is needing to be told what to do. Managers like to create user manuals, employee training, and scripts on how to answer customer questions. This generally trains employees to follow the procedure and ask their manager when it deviates from the documented flow. What happens when it is a problem or question without a defined answer? 

I was thinking about this with March Madness and how a basketball team draws up plays, yet great teams know how to stay within the framework of the play yet adapt to the needs of the current situation. Maybe the play is designed to drive to the lane but your opponent has a 7' tall center waiting to block your shot. Maybe the play is designed to hit your shooter beyond the three point line but he is having an off night.

In football a running back has a play designed to hit a certain hole in the offensive line, but if the defense clogs that up they need to find another opening to gain yardage. Every sport has a playbook. Maybe a team is so good they can run a play even when their opponent knows exactly what is coming, and it is successful anyway. Usually that isn't the case so you need adaptability in there.

In business, we need to stop thinking we should script out everything. Step-by-step instructions will be helpful in putting together Ikea furniture. The problem is it will look like everyone else's. If you are looking for a custom bookshelf to fit into a specific space, the basic concepts of a shelf are like what you find at Ikea, but you might need a craftsman to build something that fits exactly in the space you have. 

We need to recognize when there are the right times to have everything spelled out for you and more often than not we just need a playbook. A starting point to make sure we are all on the same page, but something with the flexibility to adapt to the unique situations ahead of us. 

If you are going to win games, be ready to adapt

See related post with a clip from A Bug's Life here.


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