Several Strategic Proposals team members and I are currently working on a proposal effort. This effort was underway when we were brought in and had been in the works for some 6 months or so prior to our becoming involved. Despite having been worked on for a seemingly long time, not much progress had been made and much of the content had not been developed.
As we reviewed status on the project, we discovered what was slowing things down. We learned that the people who were responsible for the content – the subject matter experts. (SME) – had been given a format to use and asked to submit their content in that format The format consisted of various boxes on a page, each a specific size and designated for a particular type of content.
Recognizing that the formatting was what was slowing down the SME’s, we immediately issued instructions to have them work without the format. They were instructed to focus solely on the content. We asked them to identify which box the particular piece of content would ultimately go in, and we did let them know they should be as concise as possible, but we told them not to concern themselves with formatting. We let them know formatting would be handled towards the end of the effort and that it would be done by someone who was an expert at formatting. They collectively gave sigh of relief.
This simple change had a huge impact. The SME’s, no longer having to deal with formatting and able to focus solely on content, produced better content and did so much quicker.
Are you perhaps making the task of content development more difficult than it needs to be by attempting to work within a format, rather than making the formatting of your document a discreet step at a later stage in the process? If so, you might want to consider ‘working outside the box’ on your next effort.