Better RFP Responses & Management
Don’t Apologize: Fix It

Don’t Apologize: Fix It

Today, Seth’s Blog talks about the gig of Chief Apology Officer. (To be clear for Canadians, he wasn’t referring to our current Prime Minister.) Their job, he says, is “to mollify critics and disappointed customers” without having their hands on any of the organizational levers, strategic or operational, that would enable change.

Most companies I’ve seen in Proposal Land have an informal Chief Apology Officer. There’s often an executive who sympathizes with undeniably overworked employees but who does nothing to correct the company’s actions and decisions that led to that overwork:

  • Assigning too few people, or too few capable people
  • Participating in too many simultaneous or back-to-back proposals
  • Failing to prepare (data gathering and resource development) either between proposals or using other staff
  • Failing to commit in a timely way, leading to key decisions being made way late to need, driving both re-work and last-minute work
  • Using processes that see executive input arrive too near the submission deadline

Executives often focus on what they see as the outcome: Did we win? And if they didn’t win: What feedback can we get from the client?

Fair enough: That matters. Insulation from market feedback is a recipe for quick disaster. But to Seth’s point, the insulation of proposal processes from any kind of feedback loop from workers is also a recipe for disaster: a slow-moving one, maybe, but just as sure.

By insulating the industrial [Ed: or proposal] system
from the feedback loop that would improve it,
these organizations doom themselves to a slow fade.

This time, Buddy, it’s OK to say you’re sorry. Next time, you’d better fix it.



  1. Jim Taylor

    I’m having exactly that problem with the local Acura dealership. Their Chief Apology Officer is very good. Very nice to talk to. A pleasant person. But the service guys are just as incompetent as they ever were.

    Jim T

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