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A Guide to the Playbooks

Business Playbooks: A Tactical Guide For Corporate Innovators

Why a playbook?

The playbook is the traditional term for the collection of plays that a team can call during a game. Typically used in a sporting context, the playbook will contain tactics, manoeuvres and strategies that a team will use during a game. In a business context, playbooks are business process workflows, standard operating procedures and cultural values that shape a consistent response – the play. A playbook reflects a plan; an approach or strategy defining predetermined responses worked out ahead of time.

In many industries, startups are outpacing corporates in creating new value for customers, shareholders, employees and other stakeholders. Having worked with startups and corporates around the world, we’ve developed a playbook series which draws on the Lean Startup methodology, providing you with the principles, tools and methods that will enable you to innovate at the speed of a startup.

As an innovator, you could create new value in countless ways, from incremental process improvements, to enhancing innovation capabilities, to building entirely new pockets of innovation activity.

An innovation is something new that creates value

This playbook series will help you:

  • Implement best practices across your organisation
  • Ensure resources and priorities are aligned with your innovation and overall business goals
  • Develop a culture of innovation
  • Identify and capitalise upon pockets of innovation activity
  • Build organisational expertise
  • Accelerate growth 

This series documents proven strategies used by organisations leading the innovation charge and should be used as a guide in your innovation journey. It has been designed such that the plays can be used independently or in conjunction with other plays.

Remember that as a corporate innovator you have access to the resources, assets, channels, knowledge and people within your organisation. Leverage these assets and don’t do it alone, draw on the expertise, insights and support of your colleagues, and share your journey with others.

The Corporate Startup Playbook: A Tactical Guide For Corporate Innovators

This playbook serves as a collection of strategies for corporate leaders, teams, and anyone interested in making their organisation more innovative. It will provide the steps and tactics to develop and implement innovation activities or “plays”, enabling corporates to innovate at the speed of a startup.

The corporate innovation plays are organised into two key sections; 'Innovate Like A Startup' and 'Innovate With Startups'.

Innovate like a startup

This section consists of a number of plays which are conventionally used in a startup environment. These plays usually help facilitate the growth phase of the business, and can be used to help a business generate innovative ideas, products and services.

  • 20 Percent Time
  • Chief Innovation Officer
  • Enterprise Crowdfunding
  • Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Hackathons
  • Ideation Workshops
  • Incubator
  • Innovation Lab
  • Innovation Program
  • Innovation Teams
  • Innovators Award
  • lean Coach Network
  • Shark Tank
  • Spin-outs

Innovate with startups

These plays enable innovation by bringing corporates and startups together to facilitate the transfer of skills, knowledge, capabilities and methodologies.

  • Accelerators
  • Acqui-hire
  • Entrepreneur Hotline
  • Innovation Outpost
  • Open Innovation Challenges
  • Open Innovation Lab
  • Outsourced Innovation
  • Startup Exchange
  • Silicon Valley Immersion
  • Sponsor Startup Hub
  • Venture Capital Advisors
  • Venture Scouts

Understanding the Playbook


The scorecard measures the various inputs and outputs for each play in the playbook. The key inputs for innovation plays are the amount of investment required to launch the play, the time needed to launch, and the complexity of implementation. Outputs for each play include the level of innovation return, the impact of the play on an organisation‘s culture, and the overall sustainability of the play. All inputs and outputs are measured on a simple, consistent scale as shown below.

Outline of the Playbooks

Each playbook is organised into three sections, Overview of the Play, Play Tactics, and Case Study.

These sections are designed to help you understand the purpose and benefits of each play, and how to implement it.

In the first section, you will find:

  • a snapshot of the play, which provides a high level summary; 
  • the strategy behind the play, or core idea behind the idea and return horizon; 
  • the play scorecard; 
  • the benefits or advantages of the play; 
  • and the known limitations and risks of the play, or common pitfalls in execution.

The Play Tactics section outlines:

  • the short term steps and considerations in launching the play, and time frame and initial capital outlay required (Initiating the Play); 
  • longer-term factors to account for once the play has been initiated (Running the Play); 
  • known alternatives or variations to the play; 
  • Other related plays or those which may have a complementary effect; 
  • and key considerations or additional factors to keep in mind going forwards.

The final section outlines a case study which illustrates the successful execution of the play in a corporate environment.

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