I often use analogies to help express ideas and concepts and I often use the analogy of restaurants when explaining proposal support.
On a recent Saturday morning, I stopped in to say hi to my brother Ken and his family. My brother-in-law, David was also visiting, from Las Vegas, where he is a head chef at one of the major hotels (the hotel is named after those tall trees with really long trunks that line the streets of Palm Beach and such places.).
Ken and his wife were having a dinner party that night, with David preparing the meal. Guests were due to arrive at 6pm and dinner, a Mexican meal with fare such as empanadas and carnitas, was planned for 7:15pm.
As we were sitting at the table finishing a late breakfast, about 11:15am or so, David looked at his watch and said, “Well, if I guess I’d better get started on dinner.”
What? Start preparations on a dinner some 8+ hours before it was due to served?
When I asked him why he was starting so early, David listed all he had to do, in which it needed to be done, and how long each task would take, in order to prepare the meal. As he spoke, his experience with meal preparation was immediately obvious. IT was also obvious he had a concern for preparing the best meal possible. David is as passionate about food and cooking as Jon and I are about proposals.
David pointed out that it was possible to prepare a meal in a much shorter period of time, but the quality would definitely suffer. He would have to take short cuts, wouldn’t be able to pay as much attention to detail and he might even miss an ingredient or two, which had happened many times before when he rushed or hadn’t had enough time. He said the time put into the preparation of a meal was always evident in the quality of the meal served.
As I listened to him, I realized the parallel to proposal development. Those groups that understand what needs to be done and allow enough time, getting started as early as possible and as needed, operate in much the same way as David does. These groups know what needs to be done. They don’t cut corners and they pay attention to the details.
They produce high-impact, high-quality responses and they do so in an efficient manner.
Those groups that don’t get started until the RFP is released, or worse, after some time has elapsed since the RFP was released, inevitably produce a much poorer quality response and doing so is much more difficult and stressful.
Great proposals, like great meals, require time to prepare and the way to have enough time is to, as David did for this dinner, get started well before the meal – the response – was to be served.