Proposal Land

Better RFP Responses & Management
Proposal Land

How to Use a Watermelon

Now retired from Proposal Land, I have hesitated to advise folks on how to deal with all this new-fangled technology since I have no first-hand experience with it. But here’s a great piece on how to use ChatGPT to expedite/improve scientific writing from someone who does have that experience, albeit in a different context.

The correlations with proposal writing are obvious. There are three good applications:

  • To create a first draft from bullets and an outline that you wrote
  • To polish a draft you wrote (copy-editing the grammar and syntax [word order])
  • To suggest ways to shorten or re-order a passage or make it less awkward

That sounds a lot like some of the elements of proposal editing. Maybe ChatGPT can free editors to focus more on adding marketing value.

And how not to use ChatGPT?

So: never use ChatGPT to generate content.

Don’t ask it for information; the results are meaningless, even if it purports to back up its claims with citations.

Using ChatGPT to generate content is like using a watermelon to do a jigsaw puzzle.

It’s not even a poor tool for that – it isn’t a tool for that at all.


Here’s a Useful Thought: Grids

Seth’s post today is nominally about using the power of a grid–course, dish–to get a complete grocery list for a complex dinner party.

He’s used this metaphor before, and I had the same reaction to it then: *This* is the highest value that editors/reviewers add.

. . . the biggest contribution editing makes to proposal writing is actually this: Creating the grid and, by doing so, highlighting the empty boxes.

Technical experts often don’t see their field in simple chunks: Their framework is implicit, not explicit. They see all the glorious detail. They’ve been so into it for so long that the detail doesn’t overwhelm them, and they take the relationships for granted: so much so that they can have trouble articulating them. That’s where a less-informed reader can help, by identifying the major elements, as it were.

The whole post is worth a few minutes of your time. The tool, used with discipline, is worth its weight.

Here’s a Happy Thought: Constraints

Seth’s blog today is titled: Boundaries are levers. He goes on . . .

And assertions are maps.
Which means that:
     Decision trees
     and projections
are nothing to be afraid of.
They’re a gift.
They give us the chance to act as if,

to describe a possible future
and then to lean against them as we work to create the place we seek to be.

Ah, timelines. Or, in Proposal Land, the schedules we love to hate. Yeah no.

The schedule is the only thing standing between us and perfectionists. Between us as we want to be and us being that perfectionist.

The schedule is the only thing that allows this seemingly never-ending and ridiculous effort to find an end.

The schedule is the only thing that forces us to think about what matters: in our solution to meet the client’s stated/unstated needs and in our proposal to present that solution.

So go ahead: Lean against that schedule. It really is a gift. You’ll also be in some great company.


Seth & Me: And Again

What Seth said . . .

Just because someone knows the word for it doesn’t mean that they understand, or that they’re a useful expert.


If someone doesn’t know the word for it, it might be worth investigating what else they don’t know.

What I said . . .

OK, this isn’t as neat, but especially for anyone new to Proposal Land, the post on Terms is a place to start and a place to go back to.

As to Seth’s first point, you will find that some self-identified experts do not understand compliance, muddling what the client *requires* in the submission documentation and what the client *wants* in the technical solution/specification with what they *require* in same, if anything. Why does it matter? Because meeting requirements costs money and, therefore, drives price. Meeting wants as if they were requirements drives your price relative to competitors; that is, it’s a losing strategy.


Seth & Me: Again

What Seth said . . .

The problem lies in what people think “marketing” is.

Marketing isn’t paying for ads, changing the logo or building a social media presence.

Marketing is product design, customer service, pricing, customer delight and creating and living a remarkable story.

Marketing is creating the conditions for the network effect.

What I said . . .

Marketing is not about putting a layer of icing on a layer of shit.