Better RFP Responses & Management
We’re All in This Together

We’re All in This Together

Remember I’m pullin’ for ya –
we’re all in this together.
Red Green

long while back I stumbled on an article on fostering teamwork in design projects. I was tickled to find that many of the lessons cited there also applied in Proposal Land.

A little while back I stumbled on a blog by a (now retired but still blogging) evolutionary ecologist and entomologist at the University of New Brunswick. He writes on many things, including the art/discipline of writing, and although his field is not proposals, many of his observations apply to Proposal Land. Here’s this week’s example.

There’s never just one way to write a paper. Instead, there are choices – lots of them –
and while it’s the writer’s job to make those choices in a way that serves readers well,
there isn’t one choice that will be best for every possible reader.
Writing well is more complicated, and much more interesting, than that.

My specific point? Writing proposals is an ongoing effort to manage long-term risk (If you win the work based on this proposal, will it be the best outcome or the worst outcome? Will living with the result be a lovely or an ugly thing?) while achieving the short-term goal of first winning the work by writing a proposal that meets the needs of disparate evaluators, many/most of whom you don’t even know.

There isn’t one choice that will be best for every possible reader.

Indeed. Our task is to accept that truth, and find a way to be, if not best, then at least OK for all readers.

My broader point? Proposal Land is not sui generis: Although it’s distinctive, and perhaps distinctively difficult, it’s not “one of a kind.” Things learned elsewhere can help us:

  • Encourage your team members to ponder which lessons from their own field of expertise can be applied to help tame the proposal beast.
  • Go forth and read broadly, with this question at the back of your mind: Can this help me or my team on the next proposal?

You might be surprised at how often the answer is, “Yes!” I know I am.



  1. Jim Taylor

    There’s real truth in your words, above, even though we work in dramatically different fields: there is never only one way to reach a reader. The difference is in result. If you reach your reader/audience successfully, you’re stuck with living up to your promises. If I reach a reader/audience successfully, I can only hope that THEY will live up to their promises.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim T – 🙂 As for the commonalities across fields, they shouldn’t be so surprising, I guess. After all, they’re all developed by people, who share the same set of ways of thinking.

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