• SJ

Avoiding Proposal Disaster series, week 1: the 11th hour kill switch


We’re going through five proposal disasters and how an improved Go/No Go process could help prevent them. (Or maybe: establishing a go/no go process to begin with. We’re all coming at this from different places, but progress is progress!) First up, the ones that never should have gotten a Go in the first place:


Disaster 1: The 11th Hour Kill Switch


You know it’s not strategic. Everyone knows it’s not strategic.


We are missing some key component to putting together a competitive submission, but no one wants to be the bad guy and say no – because maybe a miracle will happen! Until it’s 48 hours before submission and there’s no denying this is a disaster. Now leadership is not just pulling the plug – they’re shutting it down after the team has poured hours into this wasted effort.


Cue your proposal manager going home tonight and silently crying in the bath while clutching a glass of wine and your country team slowly feeding pages of the proposal draft into a fire and reconciling with the family members they haven’t seen in weeks while they poured heart and soul into a new project design. No one is happy. Everyone feels overworked and undervalued.


So, how can this disaster be prevented through a Go/No Go Process?

  • Ensure that your Go/No Go approval team has the necessary authority to actually say no to bad ideas and they’re comfortable using it (we get it, no one likes to be cast as the bad guy). Sometimes this means bumping up the decision-making authority a notch in your organization, at least until you get better as a group at saying no to nonstrategic opportunities.

  • Evaluate where in proposal cycle you typically have Go/No Go decision points. Could you avoid this by checking in earlier or more frequently? Does anyone evaluate whether opportunities are strategic at an early enough point to save wasted effort?

  • Consider quantitative scoring criteria for opportunities so decision makers have something substantive to point to other than their own opinions. It’s also easy to go crazy here in the attempt to be rigorous and impartial – so balance these qualities with effectiveness. An experienced business development consultant like Bid Boss can help you set the right tone.


No one likes to say no, but that’s why developing a system can help facilitate more strategic decision making and keep leadership from feeling like they’re personally going after opportunity advocates when they do say no. And saying no gives your Go decisions all the better chance to thrive!


Keep checking back for our next post in the series!

1. The 11th Hour Kill Switch (today)

2. The Hail Mary

3. The Pet Project

4. The Busywork

5. The Overstretch


If these disasters hit a little too close to home, it may be time to start re-evaluating your Go/No Go process. Fortunately, we’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of different processes at a lot of different organizations and learn a bit about what works and what doesn’t. Why not set up a time to talk about what we would recommend to improve yours?

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