All great sports teams have a playbook. Even the good ones have a playbook because it keeps the men or women on the field moving in the right directions—together, in unison.
In the NFL, for example, where there are only 16 games in the season, these playbooks are incredibly detailed. Since a football team consists of three core units—offense, defense, and special teams—each position and its responsibilities are well defined in the Playbook.
And, each of these plays is practiced over and over again so they can execute them flawlessly. Without a playbook, a team is left scrambling when things go wrong or unplanned.
A year ago, the CEO of a client of mine’s company was in a motorcycle accident. He was laid up for over two weeks and out of the office for more than six weeks, but because the people, processes, and priorities (three vital elements of my 7 P’s Playbook) were tightly woven into the fabric of the business. As a result, the company ran smoothly during his absence.
But suppose there’s a sudden death in the family, as was the case for my podcast guest, Andrew Keyt.
What happened? In a nutshell, Andrew was forced into a role where no playbook existed. The result was a lot of wasted time and energy as well as stress and high-anxiety. It was an unfortunate situation that couldn’t have been predicted. Or could it have?
In business, you must be prepared for any eventuality if you want operations to continue. This is equally as true when facing an unforeseen tragedy as it would be if circumstances suddenly lead you in new directions, underscoring a single-minded idea:
The Future is Now.
Like a sports team, if you want to build a good or great business, you need a playbook. In my book, Disruptive Successor: A Guide to Driving Growth in Your Family Business, I have developed such a playbook, one that can be used in any business, whether small or large, closely-held or publicly-traded.
I have worked with many next-generation leaders who are running the family business but still have a parent participating in day-to-day operations. They want to make decisions for the company’s future, but they’re often uncomfortable doing so because they don’t want to upset the family relationship. However, this hesitation could also be costing the company growth and profitability.
I’m saying that if you have a vision for the company, the time is NOW to bring it to light. You will be the one leading the way into the future, and it’s never too early to start thinking about how to make the necessary changes before you’re faced with a situation like my friend Andrew, that I mentioned above.
Statistically, 70 percent of business leaders want to pass their company to the next generation, but only 30 percent will be successful. This is why you need to start now and disrupt the company’s leadership, but not the relationships.
The process of intergenerational transfer can be painful and stressful. But when you consider the rate of failure, you need to do everything in your power to prepare yourself—and having a playbook is where it all begins.
When you have it all laid out in terms of purpose, planning, products, people, priorities, processes, and performance, it sets the stage for a successful transition, one that will please everybody.
You need to admit that your primary role model—your parent—isn’t the person who’s going to take the business where it needs to be. You must leverage lots of external resources to help you grow into your role, including business books, mentors, advisors, peer learning opportunities, and coaches. If you commit to learning and applying that knowledge to your business, you will find success.
Think of the 7 P’s Playbook as a checklist for running your business. I’ve seen it come to fruition with many of my clients; they knew where they were headed (running the family business) and that they wouldn’t get there without making significant changes but didn’t know where to start. Once you begin to bring in outside help—like the tools I offer you in my book—you’ll be on your way to achieving the growth you envision.
In the book, you’ll find action steps at the end of each chapter. I provide tools on my website to help you organize these tasks and develop your own Playbook. Once you’ve created your Playbook, you need to do one final thing: share it with your team and your family members so you can all be on the same page.
When your family and other stakeholders can see your vision as clearly as you do, implementation can begin. And there is really no reason to delay or waste time. In life, as in business, anything can happen. Case in point; over the past year, every company in every part of the world was forced to pivot. The ones that weathered the tsunami that was (and is) the pandemic were able to do so quickly and seamlessly—and you know who they are.
Of course, that’s a bit extreme, but it’s an excellent analogy to support the idea that the future is now.
What Are You Waiting For?
To wrap up my Disruptive Successor series, I’d like to share some action steps to help you achieve the success you want:
- Act strategically and develop your mindset by developing mental, physical, and emotional health. Create routines and habits that amplify your focus.
- Take an inventory of your people, their talents, and how they fit with the functions you need filled.
- Develop a one-page plan to share with others so you can align everybody to common goals.
- Go back through every chapter in Disruptive Successor to ensure you have the tools you need to fulfill every P in the Playbook.
And finally, reach out to me directly if you need further help or coaching. I offer a free sequence of calls that are designed to help me understand your needs and challenges and for us to learn what working together would be like.