Better RFP Responses & Management


I haven’t had a day off in six weeks.

When can we talk about our proposal processes?

Why do we always pull an all-nighter the night before our proposal is due?

When can we talk about our proposal processes?

The technical experts don’t know anything about writing; the writers don’t know anything.

When can we talk about our proposal processes?

Red Team just trashed our whole plan for service delivery. What now?

When can we talk about our proposal processes?

I know we have super examples of this exact same work for other clients. Why don’t we have snappy little write-ups on those? And pictures, dagnab it?

When can we talk about our proposal processes?

We never get useful feedback from our clients.

When can we talk about our proposal processes?

Well, in the middle of a proposal we don’t have time to talk about our proposal processes. And afterwards, we don’t have . . . what? Time? Motivation? Discipline? Imagination? The attention of executives and managers? Any belief that we can make it better?

It’s comfortable to ignore the system,
to assume it is as permanent
as the water surrounding your goldfish.
Seth Godin

As Seth notes, the systems we work in — including proposal processes — are not permanent. Unless, of course, we never talk about them and how they’re going wrong.

Pick your When, even if it *is* in the middle of a proposal. And then just do it.



  1. Jim Taylor

    When I first read this piece, I wanted to respond, but I couldn’t put words together. At least, no wise words.
    In my once-upon-a-time experience, hardly anyone recognized that there WAS a process we were following, which meant that raising the subject produced an echoing silence. What happened was more that one person in the mix arbitrarily changed some element that affected him/her in frustration. That spread ripples throughout the pond. Sometimes the ripples lasted, because they did in fact help the process. Sometimes they lasted because their instigator had sufficient clout. And sometimes they died out quickly because the instigator didn’t have sufficient clout — but at least she/he made people think about the process.

    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim – On one proposal, a retired senior military officer introduced me to the concept of informal leaders: people who don’t have high rank but who are nonetheless listened to by peers and even by superiors. I think we all can be that type of leader, from time to time. And yes, the ripples spread.

Comments are closed.