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A playbook on playbooks, SOP's & checklists

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Starting a Business Checklist | Xero US

What's the number one way pilots can dramatically reduce the likelihood of accidents?

They use checklists and playbooks that they ALWAYS consult whenever taking off.

Founders need the same mindset in their business. You have a responsibility to your customers, employees and investors to take your project seriously.

Playbooks and SOPs are documented set of actionable step-by-step instructions that must be completed as well as the order to execute a repeatable process. -  Do not be vague.

These become even more crucial when you start to scale - you cannot afford to micro-manage people - hire good people, let them create playbooks, evaluate and improve on them and then get out of the way.

Do not let people BLACK BOX their knowledge. If a team member at our company refuses to document their process and share what they know they will not last long. We believe that open sourcing-is the future.

Three Ds of documentation


*Note - It might make sense ONE day to document everything, you should first spend time documenting your highest leverage tasks

  • EG. The playbook on “sales process” is probably more important than creating a playbook on how to apply for annual leave
  1. Define the most critical step in your value engines and company pipeline
  2. Ensure you assign the person responsible for creating and maintaining the playbook
    1. The founder is RARELY the person who should be creating these playbooks - this is why you hire people smarter than you or have different skill sets
    2. This is a great competency test when someone first starts work - get them to build a quick playbook on their core high-leverage activities


Do not “ideate” hope to design the playbook….simply do the task and document as you go

  1. Whoever normally does the task - becomes the owner and takes responsibility for the playbook
  2. DO THE TASK & document each step
  3. After a playbook has been written, ask the person responsible to blindly do the task again following their checklist
  4. Field test - Give it to someone else and get them to follow the checklist


  1. Train
    1. A finished playbook is the ideal training program for both new and existing hires 
    2. This allows cross-training opportunities for employees so they don't just turn into a one-hit wonder
  2. Availability
    1. Don't hide your playbooks in a random Google folder hidden away r - make all playbooks easily accessible to everyone.

Other notes

Create playbooks whenever there is a mistake

Instead of instantly firing someone or getting angry when someone makes a mistake (we all do!) there is one simple question you need to ask….

….” Do we have a playbook for this?” 

….no? Let’s create one - hey “John” you are responsible for this can you please create a playbook based on our “three-D process”

Add trackability of changes

  1. Always add in the date it was created and by whom.
  2. Add in what version this is and who made the changes

Update your playbooks

  1. Whenever a new process needs to be updated
  2. Every 90 days (even if nothing changes it should be reviewed)

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