Major Event Playbook

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The first three lessons focus primarily on developing a culture of improvement agility as a part of normal operations. This lesson covers creating a major event playbook to enable an organization to quickly shift to address a major event (external force that causes a temporary change in normal operations).

Why is this a part of improvement agility?

When we have robust plans in place to address major events, our company can stop operating in "worst case scenario" mode on a daily basis. The playbook helps to overcome risk aversion. Our leaders can be confident knowing that plans are already in place to cover the highest risk external forces. Without contingency plans in place, our company may inadvertently stifle innovation or create unnecessary bureaucracy.

Having these plans in place holds open the opportunity to truly embrace improvement agility. 

The Role of the Improver


Continuous and process improvers are uniquely qualified to guide and coach the organization in developing a major event playbook. 

If your organization already has a playbook, then you can approach this as an improvement project to update the existing playbook. However, if your organization does not yet have a playbook, approach this as a process design session. It's an excellent opportunity to lead a Kaizen or Rapid Improvement Event to quickly bring together the key players to develop plans for the future.

Developing a playbook includes stakeholder analysis, process design and documentation, communication and more. An improvement professional is perfectly suited to this opportunity.

Major Event Playbook


The Major Event Playbook is a comprehensive plan to temporarily change operations in response to or anticipation of an external event. These events may include natural disasters like floods, fires, or hurricanes but may also include health pandemics or terrorist threats. Major events and their impacts vary greatly by industry.

The Playbook should include:

Developing a Playbook


  1. 1
    Major Event Categories and Triggers: define categories and levels (or tiers) of major events. Outline the criteria for triggering a major event.
  2. 2
    Roles, Responsibilities and Decision Authority: document how roles, responsibilities and decision-making authority will work during a major event.
  3. 3
    Communications: develop a thorough communications plan to notify all stakeholders of the change in operations and to provide status updates.
  4. 4
    Essential Business Functions: identify and prioritize essential business functions. Determine which employees are critical to operations during a major event. 
  5. 5
    Third Party Support: identify all needs for third-party support like emergency services, contractor support or mutual aid partners. Document all contacts, contracts or agreements. 
  6. 6
    Return to Normal Operations: establish criteria for returning to normal operations after an event. Create a process for this transition.
  7. 7
    Ownership & Updates: assign a sponsor to own the Playbook. Develop a process to keep the Playbook current, and to implement improvements. 

Action Items for This Lesson


  • Evaluate current Major Event Playbooks (if available)
  • Work with your organization to update/create Major Event Playbooks
  • Differentiate between Normal Operations and Contingency Planning/Major Events 

Lessons in this Course:

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