energizing breakthrough performance

Proposal Mayhem: A Vituperative Diatribe Against Delayed Reality

7. Does someone have the courage to say that our stock graphics are "butt-ugly?"

Ugly colors detracting from a high-density wall of words can be off-putting to many readers, except for the ones whom you don’t want to meet without fire-retardant clothing and a bullet-resistant vest. Pride of authorship is not where it’s at. Let’s create a climate and a method for making continuous improvements in our proposal templates.

Crispin, boring is worse than ugly, but you’d better not get dwelling on that again. You remember what happened the last time…

8. Are we all using the same rules of style, or do we think that "somebody on down the line" will fix our work? Are we writing with an attitude of "first-time-final" or are we "just kiddin’" when it comes to proposals, figuring that some Adult will wring it all out before the proposal goes out the door?

If every contributor to the proposal is writing with the idea that s/he just needs to put down the big ideas and someone else down the line is going to finalize the text so that it "reads," then the final proposal is going to look like a "crazy-quilt" with an emphasis on the crazy. Or, here’s an old favorite: Author 1 is marking up Author 2’s text with "aren’t-I-smart" questions scribbled in the margins. No altered text, mind you. No, just a few pregnant questions to demonstrate how clever I am and how I would have enhanced this text had I been writing it but I am too f*%!!@ busy to write that text because I am so very important, mais oui. So many meetings, so little time. But even better, Author 1 does these Amateur Markups on Author 2’s text and then lobs it over to Author 3 who, because s/he has a modicum of literary energy usually lacking in the others, is somehow expected to transmute this garbage-input, magically making a cow out of a cow-pie.

Crispin, you need to accept the fact that strange rewards are meted out to those who can read and write. Don’t attempt to understand these dynamics because they are zen-mystic. Do hold your nose, however.

Achtung! If you see these games being played, the proposal process is revealing something about your corporate culture and its personnel that does not augur well for your career. Change this corporate culture or run for your life! You could say that such behavior does not augur well for the long-range success of the company either, but one thing you learn as a management consultant is just how long an organization can enjoy success in spite of itself. The good news for pragmatists is that eventually such luck does run out on the unworthy. It can take a remarkably long time, however.

Crispie, don’t take this stuff quite so seriously, please.

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