RFP Responses are Not “War and Peace”

Maybe the hardest job in writing clear RFP responses is mustering the discipline to use one term — and only one term – for every concept. On Leo Tolstoy’s 186th birthday, he still has a lesson for us in this regard, believe it or not.  

They say that one of the reasons Russian novels are hard to read in translation is the (wait for it, you’ll never guess) . . . nicknames! Just as Elizabeth has a plethora of pet names – Betty, Beth, Betsy, Eliza, and Liz – only one or two of which are semi-obvious to a non-native speaker, so, too, do Russian names have non-obvious nicknames. It makes it tough to track the narrative when you can’t keep the players straight.

Proposal Land’s equivalent are position titles and names of plans and systems. Are these the same person: Control Room Operator, Control Operator, Control Centre Operator, Operator, (technical system acronym here) Operator? Beats me. Irritates the evaluator.

So knock off the variation. You’re not writing “War and Peace.” That’s already been done.

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2 Comments

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2 Responses to RFP Responses are Not “War and Peace”

  1. Jim Taylor

    The various names for Elizabeth at least bear some relationship to the original. But how does Margaret become Peggy? Still, that’s peripheral to your main point, to which I would add that corporate titles rapidly get shortened to acronyms or initialisms, and does IPO mean Initial Public Offering or Internet Protocol Operator? Does WTF refer to Western Terminal Factor or what a Calgary resident scribbled in the snow last Monday morning?
    Jim

    • Isabel Gibson

      Jim – Yes, or why is Pepe the diminutive of Jose? But we digress. Driving out acronyms for position/plan titles in proposals is one of my higher callings.