#e8f3f3 #e1e7f5 #edecf2 #b2d7d1 #b2d7d1

Cringe-Worthy Proposal Experiences Drive Innovation: The Plane

Author picture

Cheryl Smith



3 min

If you caught my last blog, then you know how cringe-worthy proposal experiences connect us and how laughter shortens our path to connection so we can problem solve. That’s because cringe-worthy experiences are also shared experiences; connecting us, broadening our sense of purpose, and building trust – and help us confront the norms and change behaviors for greater efficiency.

In the second in this series of blogs based on my session at APMP BPC in May, we confront when managing proposal teams with conflicting priorities.

The Plane Charter

I’ll set the scene for you. It’s 11 pm and we’re in the war room working to submit. But we’re finding holes in our content so big we could drive a tractor trailer through them. We’re finding some content we can use to fill the gaps, calling and waking people up to help. We know we’re not going to make the deadline, not with the commercial flight we booked, and certainly not by driving. So, I’m on the phone with our executive. The next thing I know, I’m on the phone with the executive terminal at the airport, chartering a private plane. Luckily, we make it and submit on time. That afternoon, the client cancels the procurement.

Our executive didn’t want to tell us. He just stood there in the door of the war room looking at us in yesterday’s clothes, exhausted, bedraggled, and vulnerable. We were all exhausted and feeling vulnerable. Turns out, that being vulnerable together helps us establish trust and build stronger relationships. Instead of pointing fingers, we focus on how to minimize those vulnerabilities next time.

The Problem

So, what went wrong? When we talked with the team, they said:

  • It was too hard to find assignments and deadlines, digging through our emails, trying to keep pace with changes, and more emails. I don’t have time for that.
  • We skipped meetings because of other priorities so we didn’t know about the deadline changes and amendments to requirements.
  • I asked someone else to have a look, so I thought they’d take care of it. I guess they didn’t.

By sharing this cringe-worthy proposal experience, the team answered the question for us. What went wrong? We left the proposal team holding the bag on a $100 million dollar opportunity.

The Innovation

By centralizing proposal tasks and deadlines, the team always has real-time access to their proposal responsibilities. No more email, no more spreadsheets, no more confusion – each task and deadline is attached to the assigned content for easy access and accountability from start to finish.

  • Stop Confusing Contributors. Each expert writer and reviewer contributor consults their personalized dashboard for a single source of truth on their tasks and deadlines.
  • Gain Visibility for Managers. Each proposal manager and coordinator, consults their personalized dashboard to know exactly who is working, or not, and how content is developing, without picking up the phone.
  • Start Empowering the Team. As workflows, so do tasks – helping contributors keep pace with deadlines from their personalized dashboard and notifications.

Time savings is a big win here, but so is accountability. Contributors know exactly what is due by when, real-time, without searching their email or consulting a spreadsheet. They can also see who else is responsible for the content, so they can reach out and collaborate on issues or questions without missing a beat, or a key requirement response. Meanwhile, proposal managers can follow the chain of content ownership from start to finish.

The moral of this cringe-worthy proposal story is this: our team is always going to be balancing their time across competing priorities. By making it easier and less time-consuming for them to know their tasks and deadlines, they have more of an opportunity to meet their tasks and deadlines. By making tasks easier and less time-consuming to assign and monitor, proposal managers can quickly assign and reassign, and quickly identify and address bottlenecks before they become delays – without a million emails.

Related articles: Cringe-Worthy Proposal Experiences Drive Innovation: The Chemical Spill

crack the proposal time-saving nut ebook

Author picture

Cheryl Smith

Cheryl Smith is our Senior Content Writer. She has additionally been writing and managing proposals since 1998. Shipley trained, she has helped establish proposal centers and advised on capture strategy, coached orals teams and lead marketing, communications and knowledge management programs. Cheryl is a graduate of The George Washington University with degrees in Theatre, Communications and Literature. When she’s not sharing her passion for work, she loves drawing, writing, cooking and exploring the Virginia woodlands with her husband, their dog Chase and the fuzzy guests they host for Rover.

Etiam arcu faucibus ultrices quisque odio. Venenatis nunc ut blandit urna.