It’s not an accident that dirt roads end up with deep ruts on them,
that moguls on hills get steeper
and that we find ourselves slipping back into
the very things that exhaust us at work.
Once the pattern starts to be grooved, we repeat it,
which only makes the groove ever deeper.
– Seth Godin, The ruts
Proposals are notorious for being exhausting, even for burning people out. So, why don’t we just do things differently?
Habits are habits because in many ways,
they’re simply easier in the moment.
A new year is as good a time as anyway to revisit our bidding ruts. To smooth off some of those proposal-team moguls. To stop slipping back into the very things that exhaust just because we’re too tired to do anything else. To form some new habits:
- To limit hours of work for proposal teams and to enforce the limits
- To set standards for presentation quality that are suitable for a one-off sales proposal, as opposed to a coffee-table photo book
- To include repair time (aka management reserve) in our schedules
- To train proposal workers outside the process, and to brief them properly inside it
- To rotate proposal work among all technical and marketing and communications and administrative staff
- To gather statistics and stories and kudos every week, rather than after the RFP hits the street
Touchy-feely types tell us to stay in the moment. For appreciating the world’s wonder, I couldn’t agree more. For managing proposals, I couldn’t agree less.