Better RFP Responses & Management
How to Foster Teamwork: Rule #9

How to Foster Teamwork: Rule #9

Hire a bookie.
(Betting on shit seems to be galvanizing and brings a team together.)

Rhys Newman and Luke Johnson

As someone who used to play poker with a cheat sheet — you know, this one . . .

Yellow stickie with list of poker hands in descending order
Poker Hands, Descending Order

. . . I might be less than a credible source for this rule.  But betting is akin, I think, to other silly games that proposal teams play, taking their fun where they can find it.

Betting: Analogous to Humour?

One form of humour is “something dangerous from a safe source” – just ask any 6-month old, giggling while being lofted into the air by a parent.

Maybe betting  is analogous: something dangerous (competition) in a safe environment (insignificant amounts, unimportant outcomes).

How Does it Work?

By building trust?  By fostering a sense of common purpose?  Hey, what am I?  A psychologist?  Knowing why it works is less important than knowing that it does.

How to Execute?

So what would proposal teams bet on, in this day of Google access?  Pretty much anything, as long as it isn’t look-uppable and doesn’t really matter.

Future sporting events (their outcomes, interim scores, number of goals/points)?  Of course. The total lunch bill for a group, or the last number in it?  Why not?

But proposal teams also have some task-related things they can bet on:

  • The number of questions that the RFP will provoke
  • The number of RFP amendments the client will issue
  • Whether there will be an extension and how long it will be

Anything that transforms the activity into a game is worth considering.

Still Skeptical?

Not buying it?  Maybe you’d like to lay a small wager.  What odds are you prepared to give me that this doesn’t work for your proposal team?


 Proposals are schedule-driven projects that require a strict project management discipline. Right? Partly right. In proposal terminology, I’d call that answer incomplete.  Proposals are projects, for sure, but they’re also the output of teamwork. I’ve recently been learning how much the design business has in common with proposals.

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.”