As some of our readers will be aware, I am a Certified Professional ski instructor and I teach skiing on the weekends.
My specialty is teaching “never evers”, those who have not skied before. The lesson for these individuals starts with the basics. They learn how to walk around in ski boots, they then use one ski and walk around on a flat area, then put on two skis and again walk around on a flat area. Still on the flat area, they are introduced to the various positions used to for stopping and turning. They even practice falling sown and getting up (a lot more difficult than you non-skiers might think.) Once they are reasonably comfortable on snow that is flat, they then go to an area where the snow has a very gentle slope.
Once the students have proven themselves capable of turning, controlling their speed and stopping, they are taken up on the chairlift and begin working on steeper slopes and learning advanced skills.
In this way, students build upon the basics of their first lessons, are never in a situation that is likely to cause injury to themselves or others and the lessons are stress free for both the student and the instructor (in this case, me).
In contrast to those taking lessons, I often see people who either go up on the slopes with friends without any instruction whatsoever. These people don’t know how to control their speed, can’t stop and often cause injury to themselves or to others on the slopes. Even if they do manage to figure out how to do either or both of those, the way in which they do so is not very effective and it certainly isn’t anything upon which they can build more advanced skills.
So what’s this got to do with proposals? After all, that is what our blog is about. Here’s the parallel I often see. Unfortunately, many people working on proposals fall into the ‘taught by friends’ or worse, not taught at all category. They join a proposal group, or they ARE the proposal group and they are expected to just do the job. No lessons, no basics, just put on the sis and go as it were. As one might imagine, just as it is in skiing, this approach is equally as dangerous in proposals. We know the results. Poor quality output, lots of stress and ultimately not really learning how to develop proposals in the most efficient and effective manner.
In contrast, those people who receive proper proposal training, beginning with the basics (“What is a proposal? What is the goal and what are the objectives of a proposal? What constitutes a high-quality proposal?) and building upon that knowledge, are able to produce high-quality proposals and do so in an efficient manner.
I’d be curious to know from you, our readers, whether you received training when you first began working on proposals or whether you just “went up the chairlift and learned from your friends.”