"I sure wish we'd turned our proposal writing draft in even later than we did...that would've really benefited the final product!", said no one ever.
We all have really great intentions when we start working on a new proposal. Frequently, though, proposal work is the first item on our to-do list that we let slip through the cracks. At first we just see our little piece of the puzzle being affected...we forget the overall team and proposal impacts that our slippage causes.
Keith J. Cunningham (author of The Road Less Stupid) recommends we consider the 2nd-order consequences of our decisions. The main concept here is that you really do have 100% control over your own actions.
How do YOUR decisions affect the rest of your proposal team and the end product? Here are today's Top 3 Proposal Leadership Skills, specifically for technical professionals. We'll look at why these are important, and the consequences of each if we ignore them.
Everyone has strengths...and weaknesses. Within the AEC industry we still seem to struggle with sharing our weaknesses. Yet when we don't, it almost always ends up hurting you and/or your team.
Let's use 3 questions Keith Cunningham crafted to consider the 2nd-order consequence of a decision to discuss this leadership skill...
What happens if you DON'T share your weaknesses?
End result? I highly recommend you share your weaknesses up-front for the best outcome. It'll likely work out better for you, and your team, in the long-run!
I like these 3 questions...don't you? Let's use them again...let's say you're assigned the task of writing a long section that's 4 pages in length.
What happens if you wait until the last night before your assignment is due to write those 4 pages?
End result? Having 2-3 shorter work sessions provides you with a much higher chance that you'll complete your writing task to the expected completion and quality level (25%? 50%?).
What? I can say "no"? Yes, you can! Or rather, you should be allowed that ability and honesty with your proposal (and management) team. Assuming you have a healthy management team (that's a whole other blog post!), let's do our last round of questions to look at the 2nd-order consequences...
What happens if I take on proposal assignments I don't have time for?
End result? Be honest and firm regarding your availability to help.
Being honest and straightforward during the proposal preparation process, and doing what you said you'd do to the expected level of quality are true leadership skills. With a little forethought, you can escape the downside of bad decisions and instead be seen and known in your firm as a true asset to the proposal process.
Ask better questions to get better information.
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