Proposal Land

Here’s a Useful Thought: Grids

Seth’s post today is nominally about using the power of a grid–course, dish–to get a complete grocery list for a complex dinner party.

He’s used this metaphor before, and I had the same reaction to it then: *This* is the highest value that editors/reviewers add.

. . . the biggest contribution editing makes to proposal writing is actually this: Creating the grid and, by doing so, highlighting the empty boxes.

Technical experts often don’t see their field in simple chunks: Their framework is implicit, not explicit. They see all the glorious detail. They’ve been so into it for so long that the detail doesn’t overwhelm them, and they take the relationships for granted: so much so that they can have trouble articulating them. That’s where a less-informed reader can help, by identifying the major elements, as it were.

The whole post is worth a few minutes of your time. The tool, used with discipline, is worth its weight.

Here’s a Happy Thought: Constraints

Seth’s blog today is titled: Boundaries are levers. He goes on . . .

And assertions are maps.
Which means that:
     Decision trees
     and projections
are nothing to be afraid of.
They’re a gift.
They give us the chance to act as if,

to describe a possible future
and then to lean against them as we work to create the place we seek to be.

Ah, timelines. Or, in Proposal Land, the schedules we love to hate. Yeah no.

The schedule is the only thing standing between us and perfectionists. Between us as we want to be and us being that perfectionist.

The schedule is the only thing that allows this seemingly never-ending and ridiculous effort to find an end.

The schedule is the only thing that forces us to think about what matters: in our solution to meet the client’s stated/unstated needs and in our proposal to present that solution.

So go ahead: Lean against that schedule. It really is a gift. You’ll also be in some great company.


Seth & Me: And Again

What Seth said . . .

Just because someone knows the word for it doesn’t mean that they understand, or that they’re a useful expert.


If someone doesn’t know the word for it, it might be worth investigating what else they don’t know.

What I said . . .

OK, this isn’t as neat, but especially for anyone new to Proposal Land, the post on Terms is a place to start and a place to go back to.

As to Seth’s first point, you will find that some self-identified experts do not understand compliance, muddling what the client *requires* in the submission documentation and what the client *wants* in the technical solution/specification with what they *require* in same, if anything. Why does it matter? Because meeting requirements costs money and, therefore, drives price. Meeting wants as if they were requirements drives your price relative to competitors; that is, it’s a losing strategy.


Seth & Me: Again

What Seth said . . .

The problem lies in what people think “marketing” is.

Marketing isn’t paying for ads, changing the logo or building a social media presence.

Marketing is product design, customer service, pricing, customer delight and creating and living a remarkable story.

Marketing is creating the conditions for the network effect.

What I said . . .

Marketing is not about putting a layer of icing on a layer of shit.

Management Reserve: Redux

Don’t believe me; believe Seth.

The last minute is not a buffer zone,
nor is it the moment to double-check your work.

Before that last minute, set aside a few hours or a few days at the end (the amount depending on the length of your response period) and hold it free of any planned work. Having this explicit management reserve is an essential tool in meeting schedule, which is the most-important thing in Proposal Land.

Good proposal teams schedule time to check their work, more than once and yes, at the end. They also allow time for things to go off the rails. Because they often do. And if they don’t consume all your management reserve? You can have a little more time to add to Seth’s last minute to admire your handiwork and your project planning.