[Those of a sensitive disposition, look away now!]
I ran an event recently for a group of purchasing managers, discussing the proposal process – and sharing thoughts on how they could engage bidders more effectively and write better RFPs. (The unofficial sub-title of the course is “What Jon wishes he’d known when he worked in procurement”!)
The conversation turned to proofreading, and one of the buyers shared her most embarrassing mistake in this regard. She’d just led the evaluation team on a major tender, and was presenting to the Board with their recommendations.
She clicked onto the slide titled: “Weighting and Ranking” – only to find that she’d accidentally swapped around two very important letters….
It reminded me of the all-time worst proofreading error I’ve seen in a proposal – which, fortunately, was noticed at the very last minute. The team was bidding to a major city’s “Mass Transit Authority”. Some content contributors had decided to merge the two words together – “Masstransit”. And a document manager, tight for time, had simply accepted the word processor’s recommended correction.
The result? All the way through the proposal, the bidder had referred to the customer as the “M*sturb*te Authority”.