Team enablement

How to build a great team playbook

Building and maintaining a great team playbook is the single most impactful thing you can do to ensure high organizational clarity and operational excellence within your team over time. Here's how you do it.

What is a playbook?

The term playbook originates from American sports. In its original context, the playbook was a physical notebook containing a sports team's strategies and plays.

In more recent years, playbooks have been digitized and adopted by business teams in order to cultivate a high performance mindset and culture similar to that of professional athletes.

What is a team playbook?

A team playbook is a description of how a team organizes its work and what they have realized about their work so far.

It explains where the team is going, how it plans to get there and how the team is doing.

Why keep a team playbook

Team playbooks exist to

  • Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them (read more about role clarity)
  • Establish a clear sense of direction to inspire and motivate team members (read more about existence clarity and goal clarity)
  • Improve sense of team identity, belonging and team morale
  • Develop the team and its capabilities
  • Operationalize organizational vision, goals and strategies
  • Improve the performance, alignment, predictability and psychological safety of the team
  • Provide a better understanding of and transparency into how the team operates
  • Enable systematic improvability of team operations
  • Change or unify behaviors

In short, team playbooks exist to shape healthy and high-performing teams.

What does a great team playbook consist of?

A great team playbook contains the insight that every high-performing team needs:

  1. Where are we going?

    Why does the team exist?


    In which direction are we headed?


    How will we deliver value?

    Who we help
    Our solutions

  2. How will we get there?

    Who takes care of what?

    Roles and responsibilities
    Skillsets and skills

    How do we work?

    Insights and best practices

    What do we use?

    Systems and information

  3. How are we doing?

    How are we performing?

    Performance indicators

    Which uncertainties exist?


    Where are we focused right now?


What are the traits of a great team playbook?

The most impactful traits of a great playbook can be grouped into three main categories:

  • Accessibility
  • Accountability
  • Uniformity

A great team playbook is accessible

Accessibility means having a digital team playbook platform where team insights are easily available to both team members, leaders and stakeholders.

When the playbook is digitally available:

  • Stakeholders and people from neighbouring teams can more easily be granted access, providing them a more holistic perspective of work and tearing down silos
  • Insight can be located more quickly through modern and powerful search capabilities
  • More people are enabled to contribute to improving team insight, regardless of their physical location
  • We can ensure that the team playbook is sufficiently aligned with the vision and strategy of the organization

A great team playbook is accountable

Accountability helps us to make sure that the playbook gives an accurate representation of how work is actually done, and keeps us in sync with team expectations.

When a playbook is accountable:

  • We have a single source of truth for team expectations which we can point to and rally around
  • We know who changed what when
  • We can see if, where and by whom our processes and checklists were used
  • We know which roles are expected to be familiar with which types of insight, and to which extent they are
  • We know if the information we're looking at is updated, relevant and verified by relevant role holders
  • We can hold team leaders accountable for ensuring that the team playbook grows complete and remains relevant
  • We can ensure that the team is maintaining a balance of innovation and uncertainty management

A great team playbook is uniform

Uniformity means organizing the team playbook around a best practice template reused across different types of teams.

When different teams use the same playbook template:

  • We maintain organization and structure over time as every piece of insight has a predetermined location
  • It's easier to locate insight and identify what's missing
  • We expose where our insight is great and where we need better answers
  • We maintain a common vocabulary ensuring that we have the same mental models when talking about coordination mechanisms
  • We improve our understanding of how to enable an existing team and how to architect new teams and their playbooks from scratch


Building and maintaining a great team playbook has significant and long-lasting consequences for team morale, identity and performance.

If you are looking for a platform to build and maintain your team playbook, check out Wecomplish - The team enablement platform.