I’m going to Malaysia in December for my 40th birthday. Vic and I have been there before – on honeymoon, three years ago – and most of the trip will be spent lazing at the resort doing not-very-much-at-all.
For the books were sorted by publisher. To the left, the rows of Lonely Planets. Straight ahead, the bank of Rough Guides. Over there, the stash of Eyewitness Gudies.
Now, I may be in a minority here, but I don’t tend to buy travel books in a store on the basis of “I wonder where Fodors is recommending today?” Instead, I’ll be browsing to see what’s available that could give me insights into the particular destination that I have in mind.
This vendor-centric thinking is sadly inherent in many proposals I read – especially pro-active proposals (rather than responses to defined RFP questions). It seems as if the structure is determined by the list of subject matter experts: “Let’s include a chapter from each department that’ll be involved in the solution.” It’s the wrong way round: far better to start with a brainstorm of the information needed by the customer to make a decision to go ahead with your proposition.
I see similar dangers – even with RFP responses – with material contributed by sub-contractors. I can well imagine this bookseller showing a publisher’s reps around the store. “Look how many of your books we’re stocking!” Perish the thought that any proposal might park the material from any teaming partners, effectively, on a different shelf – written in a different voice (”because we’ve scarcely got time to edit our own material, never mind theirs”), the style and substance not fully integrated with the rest of the document.