The APMP syllabus would, quite rightly, have us believe that a proposal team should conduct two learning review (or ‘lessons learnt’) sessions. The first should take place soon after submitting the document – whilst the team’s views are still fresh in their minds. Key topics for debate include identifying what the team did well (i.e. techniques and tactics that should be repeated on future deals), as well as what could have been improved (by individuals, or systemically by the organisation).
Working with a team in Madrid a while ago, one of the participants made the interesting point that there should probably be a third learning review, say six months after you’ve on a deal. Too often, when projects are delivered, they fail to meet the customer’s expectations or the supplier’s goals; the two organisations’ respective teams struggle to make sense of what was documented and agreed during the bid process. Perhaps it’s a case of “It doesn’t do what it says on the can”, or maybe simply “We hadn’t fully understood or anticipated that”.
Understanding whether this has been the case is critical – and diagnosing anything that could have been done differently in the bid or proposal to prevent the issues from occurring strikes me as crucial. And for those projects that are a resounding success? Again, clear assessment of what went well – and communication of why this was – could add huge value to the organisation.
I thought it was a fascinating point, and it’s one I think I’ll emphasise rather more in future when working with teams who are looking to learn and to improve.