How can executives find a solid foothold for themselves and their organizations at a time of ever-increasing disruption in nearly every industry? Some leaders might say the best response is to move more quickly. But a more strategic approach that begins with identifying goals and a plan to achieve them sets the stage to respond to change more effectively and efficiently. The time-tested, time-honored practices set out in the playbook presented in this monograph can help build individual and organizational momentum and increase the capacity to recognize the need for change and to pivot successfully in this fast-moving world.

By incorporating this playbook into your everyday work and life, you will develop a deep organizational competency to reorient to new operating realities and to apply key questions to determine whether to stay the course or adjust your mission. The practices set out here function like a GPS system: You set your starting point and identify your destination. As you proceed toward your goals, you chart your progress and stay alert for potential roadblocks to move around and alternatives routes that might get you there faster. You rely on this system to help you “recalculate” as you navigate purposefully to achieve your goals and objectives.

This playbook is designed to bring clarity to your journey and the points along the way when it may be necessary to recalibrate your path. It sets out a discipline that can be applied at both an individual and organizational level. As you learn to integrate these practices in pursuing your professional and personal goals, consider the impact on a business if each member of the executive team worked together to apply the same approach. Imagine everyone in a department moving forward together, equipped with the means to recalibrate as a team on key aspects of the mission when necessary. Then imagine this capacity deployed at an enterprise level. The power of this playbook increases exponentially with wider adoption and makes the organization more “energy-efficient” when it is necessary to pivot en masse to respond to evolving market demands, technological shifts, or economic conditions.

The practices explored in this monograph and supporting resources are designed to enhance creativity, clarity, speed, learning, and effective working relationships, thereby increasing organizational resiliency to disruption. The playbook provides a framework to stay focused on these fundamental questions as you and your organization move purposefully toward attaining your purpose—that is, your vision and mission:

  • What do you need to accomplish?
  • What do you need to learn?
  • What relationships do you need to cultivate?
  • How will you allocate time to these activities?

There is great power in all stakeholders knowing their purpose and goals, allocating the optimal time and energy to attain those goals, and committing to the necessary learning and practices to accelerate progress toward that purpose. This is not a revolutionary concept. An executive I recently began coaching told me, “I know all of this stuff, but I hadn’t been practicing it.” That’s not unusual. In my experience, only a small percentage of business leaders apply these principles regularly and effectively.

How to Use This Monograph and Playbook

I described some of these principles in my first book Doing What Matters, which was written as business fable, and have elaborated on them in articles and podcasts available on this website The CEO Corner (www.theceocorner.com). This monograph is an instructional guide on how to implement these practices through an executive’s playbook that has been developed over 30 years of conscious practice. I have shared the playbook with more than 100 leaders, both newly minted and veteran, and this work continues to evolve in iterative fashion with input from executives, mentors, and business coaches. Their feedback has been adapted and honed into a set of key principles and practices that comprise this monograph and accompanying playbook.

Each of the five tabs that follow describes a page in the playbook and offers business research and insights to guide how you use and apply the playbook in your professional and personal practice. The principles and related practices discussed here are not mine alone. Wherever possible, I’ve credited the most authoritative business leaders who have inspired me through the years. As just one example, with respect to time management, I’ve leaned on the wisdom of management guru Peter Drucker’s statement, “The most precious resource any executive can manage is TIME.”

This guide and playbook are designed for learning by doing to achieve the highest possible Return on Effort (RoE). Over time, I encourage you to adapt and expand the basic playbook in ways that reflect your individual and organizational purpose and goals. Toward that end, here’s another useful maxim: Knowledge by itself is not sufficient; it is knowledge applied that makes the difference.

At The CEO Corner, you will find additional components, available for free, to support this monograph: (1) an audio narrative that reinforces and offers additional examples of how to use and adapt the playbook and (2) a downloadable version of the playbook in Excel format. Read and listen along as you begin to develop and incorporate your playbook into your daily progress toward your goals and purpose. And check back regularly with the website, where we will continue to share podcasts and articles from business leaders about how they rely on their own versions of a playbook.

I hope you find this monograph and playbook to be both useful and inspiring, as reflected in the title Constellations. Through the ages, humans have gazed in wonder at the night sky and found patterns among the brightest of the endless stars, which they have used to represent stories and to serve as a guide to navigate across uncharted territory. In the same way, you can use the playbook to create meaning and purpose by connecting the dots among the infinite possibilities in today’s business environment, to make those possibilities more concrete and attainable, and to chart your course to success.

These practices are not difficult to grasp or implement. They are surprisingly simple, but they do require commitment and discipline. By embarking on this journey—to clarify your purpose and goals, hone time management, establish and carry out personal development and learning plans, and build effective relationships—you can join a small but growing group of like-minded leaders who have seized the opportunity to help themselves and their organizations achieve their full potential.

Now let’s dig into how to build your playbook.

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