The stand-up comic Demitri Martin says, “I don’t have a plan B. My plans are numbered.”
The theme of the upcoming annual SPAC* APMP conference**, at which I’m presenting and will have a booth, is “Little Shop of Proposal Horrors: A Survival Guide”.
My presentation is titled, “Survivor – Atlanta”. This wasn’t a big stretch given the overall conference theme and the popularity of this show (one of the few I thing that hasn’t been parodied as Jon and I have done “Makeover”, “Idol” and several others at previous conferences.
During my presentation, we will look at some of typical (and perhaps not so typical but certainly possible) situations that one could (should?) expect to encounter while working on a proposal. For each of these we’ll develop a three level plan, borne out of my training in martial arts.
The approach taken by the particular school of martial arts I study (Kenpo karate, Parker school) calls for a three pronged approach. These are “avoid”, “disengage” and “engage”. Each of these is fairly self explanatory so I won’t say much about then.
Avoid. Simply put, you avoid getting into a difficult situation in the first place. Be aware of your surroundings. Know where it is safe to go…and where it is dangerous.
Disengage. If you haven’t been able to avoid a difficult situation, attempt to disengage. Walk away. Refuse to engage. Don’t answer that person back. Let it go.
Engage. If you can’t avoid or disengage, then and only then do you engage. And when you engage, fully engage. With intent. Be focused. Use your training. Control your emotions and breathing. (“He/She who controls their emotions and breathing wins.”) Take command of the situation. (You’ve practiced for this and know what to do.)
For our proposal purposes these would be “avoid”, “contain” and “contingency” (ACC). Here too, fairly self explanatory, right? For any probable challenge, you can, given enough time, come up with a way to avoid it, contain it and or put in place a contingency in the event it can not be contained.
The analogy I use for this is “cows”, having once lived on a farm. To avoid our cows running free, they were kept in a fenced pasture. To contain them, in the event they break out of the pasture, there was a second fence surrounding the first fence. For contingency planning, we had a trailer and a pick-up in which we could go get the run away cow (yes, it did happen on a few occasions.)
I’ve worked with proposal teams and developed “ACC” plans. These have proved very useful in allowing us to develop and submit a high-impact, high-quality proposal under tough circumstances. (In fact, the tougher the circumstances, the more you need to do ACC planning.)
We’d love to hear form those of our readers who are already doing this. For what situations have planned? How has this helped you in your work?
And for those who implement this method, we’d like to hear of your success with it.
*Southern Proposal Accents Conference. This is jointly hosted by the Carolina, Florida Sunshine and Georgia Chattahoochee Chapters of APMP.
** Friday, October 30, 2009. Cobb Galleria Conference Center, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.