Proposal Land

After Red

We’ll catch that after Red.

As in, after the dreaded and infamous Red Team review, about which the less said the better.

As we charge hard to make a deadline, even for review, it’s tempting to defer changes and corrections to what seems like an expansive period of ample time for everything “after Red.”

As Seth points out here, fixing stuff late in the day is the hardest, most expensive time to do it. As I point out here, this also applies in Proposal Land, especially to necessary standardization.

Got typos? Fix ’em after Red.

Got solution and terminological and graphical inconsistencies? Fix ’em soonest. Better yet, put the planning and coordination effort in at the beginning to prevent them.


Term: Request for Expression of Interest

A procurement tool used to identify probable level of competition in a planned procurement, by requesting non-binding expressions of interest on the opportunity as defined.

Sometimes called Request for Letter of Interest.

If Expression and Letter of Interest are meaningfully different, the distinction escapes me.

The Last Minute

Date certain

That was the title on Seth’s blog today. Even nose deep (and sinking) as I am in my last last proposal — or maybe exactly because of that — the title catches my eye. Is he talking about what I think he’s talking about?

This is very different from “someday.”
Choose any date you like, as far in the future as you like.
But a date, circled on the calendar.

Yup, it sure ’nuff looks like it. A hard, drop-dead, date-certain deadline.

By that date, what will you have implemented?
What will be in place?
Where will you be, what will you be doing?

Well, in Proposal Land, by that pesky date we will have implemented a proposal.

A small miracle (*Can* miracles be small?) of creativity, teamwork, sticktoitiveness, and plain willingness to work too hard will be in place.

And we’ll be at the finish line, doing exhausted, giddy, relieved, too tired to be proud, really, and justalittlesaditwasn’tasgoodonpaperasitwasinourheads (pretty sure that should be a word) (and pretty sure it is, in German).

Date certain.
Way more powerful than someday.

Well, he’s right, comme d’habitude. And it’s true: assigning a date to an activity is *way* more powerful than not. That’s why no customer ever released an RFP that said this: “I tell you what. You know what we want. You know what you have done and what you can do. Put together a little something on how those fit together in your minds, send it over, and we’ll take a look.”

If it weren’t for the last minute,
nothing would ever get done.
– Another citizen of Proposal Land

It continues to amaze me what proposal teams can get done, given those dagnabbed deadlines. So feel free to sing along with Seth, and grab a little piece of that magic for yourself in another application. Give yourself the gift of a last minute.


And if you’d like to read Seth on deadlines, check this out: How not to miss a deadline.

And this interesting companion piece on how to handle it you do: How to miss a deadline.

The applications to Proposal Land are obvious.

First, Identify the Problem

Dear Dizzy Izzy:
I’m reviewing a proposal and it is nowhere near
what it needs to be for submission. Nowhere. Near.
Is the team stupid, do you think, or just lazy?
Red Teamer

Oh my.

Dear Too-Typical:
What I think is that the proposal team needs your help.
Izzy Dizzy

In the human resources world there are training and motivation problems, and it’s important to know which one it is when performance is sub-par.

In Proposal Land, teams don’t usually lack either training or motivation: What they usually lack is time. Shortcomings in the document are almost always an indication of too little time, too few resources assigned, or both.

What that means for Red Teamers is this: The proposal team needs your help. What that looks like is this:

  • Make super-specific suggestions for improvement (maybe even offer to do the work, if you’re capable)
  • Flag any sub-sections that work well, so they can be used as a model for similar sub-sections in other parts of the proposal
  • Set priorities for the work (see “lack of time” above: time doesn’t get any more abundant after Red Team)
  • Find them more hands if and only if the people attached to those hands know the company, the project, and proposals