Early on when running a proposal, I ask members of the team to visualise success. If they all have a clear and consistent picture in mind of “what good would look like”, then the chances of them “doing good stuff” will be that much higher. The process should be less painful, too, as they work with a common goal to which they’ve each committed.
One team I worked with recently was struggling to get their minds in gear on this topic. We’d tried the usual tricks: we’d brainstormed, we’d used post-its, we’d visualised the evaluators reading the document, we’d drawn pictures – but to no avail: nothing really clicked.
So I tried an alternative approach the following morning. I copied the back covers of a selection of paperback books – novels and non-fiction. I asked the team to look through them and study their composition. A headline to catch the eye, a plot synopsis, an author profile and a few gushing quotes seemed to be the common features.
And then I invited the team to write their own perfect back cover for the proposal they were about to write. And it worked like a dream!
Yet I was minded to push the concept a step further. Most evaluation teams will produce some form of internal briefing note about each bidder’s proposal. That summary, it struck me, is broadly akin to a book review.
So, what if we asked proposal contributors to write a ‘review’ of the ‘book’ they’re about to produce – specifically, the review they’d hope would be written by the customer’s chief evaluator? That’d make them think about structure, style and story of the proposal they were about to develop – and might well unlock some fascinating insights.