RFP responses are schedule-driven projects that require a strict project management discipline. Right? Partly right. In proposal terminology, I’d call that answer incomplete. RFP responses are projects, sure, but they’re also team efforts. I’ve recently been learning how much design teams are like proposal teams.
This post is one of a series on proposal teamwork, inspired by a fabulous article on Medium on design teams: “No Dickheads! A Guide to Building Happy, Healthy, and Creative Teams.”
“Say good morning and good night.”
Rhys Newman and Luke Johnson
Greeting others on the proposal team at the start of the workday reminds everyone that they’re not working on their own. It reminds them that they can both give and receive help:
- Solving a tricky technical problem
- Finding corporate resources
- Reviewing and improving a draft
- Putting complaints into perspective
- Sifting through wacky ideas to find the one that will win it all
Saying goodnight reinforces teamwork in the same way and offers two specific end-of-day opportunities:
- Giving others a chance to catch you before you leave, to ask you about that one thing that’s stalling their progress
- Giving you the opportunity to gently reinforce the team’s protocols about maximum hours of work
There is, of course, a story that illustrates the point.
The proposal manager was meticulous: anything he did, he did consistently. Every morning he greeted everyone on the team as they came in. If anyone started work earlier than he did, he made a point of stopping by their desk on his way in.
It seemed a bit over-the-top, but it drove some interesting team behaviour. Others started to go around and say hello, too, not just to the folks adjacent to their own work area, but to all the others on the team. Editors spoke to engineers; architects spoke to facility maintainers; production staff spoke to volume supervisors.
Seating at meetings started to shift, ever so subtly. People didn’t always sit in their functional silo: they sat beside anyone.
Chance encounters around the coffee machine in the kitchen now led to conversation: sometimes about the weekend, but sometimes about the project. And so it went. Gradually, a group of strangers from a dozen companies and divisions gradually became an effective proposal team.