As a strategist, it is my opinion, my observation, and my experience, that the ability to think logically underpins any successful strategy.
So in this segment, I’d like to challenge the logic of a practice that has become the norm for corporates, in the production of big-ticket bids.
That is: The “WAR ROOM”.
What. A. Nonsense. What an absolute nonsense. What an illogical, counterproductive nonsense to create an environment that fosters maximum interruptions and distractions, for the execution of a task that requires maximum concentration and focus: The task to which I am referring is, of course, writing. And not just any old writing either. Strategic writing, no less.
Writing is a task for the INDIVIDUAL. Yes, liaison with the authors of other submission sections is required, BUT this represents the minority percentage of the time that should be dedicated to authoring activities – and the necessary interaction is something that could be easily conducted by phone or by popping into someone else’s office, or by meeting them in a meeting room, for the specific amount of time necessary.
The majority of the response-authoring time is still spent in the actual writing function. Or, at least, it should be.
The root of the issue lies in the fact that a clear-cut, comprehensive, documented-in-detail bid strategy hasn’t been produced prior to setting the writing team loose on the task.
If a detailed strategy document – preferably supplemented with a Writer’s Guide for each major section of the response – were to hand, for each section author, there would be very little need for discussion from that point onwards. And that is because the theme, content and direction for specific answers, would be laid out in front of the relevant authors, in – quite literally – black and white.
Writing Is A Task for the Individual
While the development of strategy is a group activity (and frequently, the more inputs the better), the task of writing submission sections is one distinctly for the individual.
Writing in general, if you’re going to do it well, requires focus and concentration. So how much more focus and concentration does strategic, bid-winning writing, therefore justify?
It’s NOT a group task. It’s one best done in silence and solitude; not one done in the crossflow of conversations (a percentage of which aren’t even related to the bid), mobile phone calls, and other constant, interruptive goings-on.
Take any big-name author you can name – whatever the genre . . . fiction, nonfiction, business, academic . . . whatever. Can you imagine any one of these writing greats tapping away at the kitchen table with spouses, kids or friends etc carrying on conversations all around them?
Of course not. And if the writing greats perform their craft alone and in peace, why would anyone else – most especially, for example, a subject matter expert who probably doesn’t write as a day job – think a silent, focused environment is optional for them?
You may well argue that your bid teams pull it off.
My question to you is:
How much would the quality of your writing be improved, how fewer rounds of editing would your submission need to go through, and how much would your productivity rate be increased, if the writing function was treated as one worthy of the utmost seriousness, focus and concentration?
I can answer that for you:
The answer is the job would get done in about half the time.
However, the quality of the written output would still depend on the existence and quality of a written bid strategy document. Which is another topic . . . because rarely does such a thing exist. Or not what I would call a credible bid strategy blueprint, anyway.
But if one did exist, along with a Writer’s Guide for each section author, and if that section author was given a quiet, undisturbed environment, the greatly increased quality of output would match the greatly increased performance in productivity.