One of our earlier articles, Eight ways to get the most out of your bid team drew my eye recently.
The sixth item reads:
6. Chase the stragglers mercilessly. Late content is almost always poorer quality than the rest.
Who are these ‘stragglers’?
Most often they are subject matter experts.
Well, that is a bit obvious, isn’t it?
Perhaps a better question is, why do they ‘delay their inputs’?
Is it an attitude problem – they just don’t care?
Looking for the answer to that reminds me of one of the more important things you learn as a new manager – do not commit the fundamental attribution error:
In social psychology, the fundamental attribution error is the tendency for people to under-emphasise situational and environmental explanations for an individual’s observed behaviour while over-emphasising attitude and personality-based explanations.
Or in other words, the fundamental attribution error is assuming ill-intent of a person whose behaviour isn’t what you think it should be.
So maybe the question should be rephrased as ‘why are their inputs delayed’ – let’s not assume it is because of intention…
What are the environmental factors impacting subject matter experts?
Just that – they are subject matter experts – which means every project, every job calls on their time.
We all know who they are.
We all know their idiosyncrasies (even if we haven’t thought about the environmental factors which might cause those observed idiosyncrasies to manifest!).
We all know that although they report to [insert name here], they are utilised across the business.
Now we are getting close to the underlying issue – the fact is that these people invariably have many de facto managers – their reporting lines don’t really do justice to the world they work in.
So, who do we blame?
Err, no one. That isn’t how we roll…
So, what to do?
Ahh, now that is a better question.
If your business needs to win tenders, winning tenders must be a core competence. It can be a core competence because you have developed that internally (hard to do given the ever-increasing, ever evolving challenge of winning on non-price attributes), or by buying in that core competence from Plan A consultants.
Either way – if it is core to your business, it must have ultimate oversight by a decision maker empowered to direct resources across business units.
That person should ultimately hold accountability for tender activity (from bid strategy through to Gold review sign-off), and proactively directing key personnel in respect of prioritising their time is one of that persons most basic accountabilities.
That is where the buck stops!
We can help.
The rest of the sixth point in the article referred to went on to say:
‘The contributors who delay their inputs are usually the ones who are least comfortable with, or least able to contribute focused, quality responses to the sections they are delegated to complete.’
Deep experience winning multiple tenders across multiple industries brings a lot of ‘can do’ – including helping people develop content.
We do this by creating frameworks, templates, or even just bullet points with what we know are likely to approximate the content needed – and that can provide a great ‘kick-starter’ for your subject matter experts to get underway.