Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tribes in proposal production

Seth Godin (and if you don't know him you should, though I admit sometimes he can try too hard inventing the cliches for the next marketing generation) has just released his free e-book which is a series of Q&As about how effective "tribes" are. Tribes are one of Godin's concepts - communities with leaders and followers - and rules - that can drive ideas. 

So can tribes help proposal development? There are the tools available now to potentially create tribes - you don't need to look further that Facebook , Myspace or perhaps more appropriate to bid writers, LinkedIn (if you aren't a member, why not?).

Is the Association of Proposal Management Profesionals a tribe - sure - and it helps through the dissemination of best practice throughout the industry. But what about in your organisation? Can we make a tribe out of the bid team.

Part of the problem with bid teams is that some of the peripheral members, who have a minor contribution to the finished work don't have the buy in - they see themselves as part of another team, who unfortunately has to squeeze in 30 minutes extra work to "give the sales guy some text".  OK - so it's no always like that, but why can't we get enthusiasm when asking for help on our proposals.

The proposal kick-off meeting can help - the tone of it being upbeat about the potential project. It needs to be prepared - it's not a 'let's brainstorm' (read "fantasize" - I'll cover more on brainstorming later).  It should be an allocation of ownership - people who feel ownership of their part are more likely to feel part of the tribe. Maybe have the meeting off site. I know it's only a short meeting, but try a coffee shop. The person who site at their desk all day might start welcoming the opportunities to work on the bid team as it gets them out of the office every now and then...who knows they might want to start writing content for you. 

Buy in, ownership, leading, tribes. It's all about getting the desire of those your are working with and leading to be as committed to the same goals your are.

And remember, as in any tribe...all the members share in the success. So do your proposal writing well (remember that you can find out how to do it better at and plan on taking another trip (maybe somewhere better than the coffee shop) when the work is won.