Musings

Tale of an all-nighter

By January 30, 2020No Comments

Mark’s Musings #2

“I wrote this sitting in a bid room at 12.37am towards the end of last year. It was the 10th straight day I had been embedded in the bid team of a major global organisation. They were rebidding a contract they have had for many years and the bid was due the next day at noon.

The night before I’d left the office after 9pm and was the first to leave. The rest worked once more  into the early hours.

On this particular evening, there seemed to be some sort of masochistic enjoyment in ‘pulling an all-nighter’. One of the senior executives flew in at about 10pm that evening to review the financials, and, of course, would like a look at the Executive Summary. By 12.44am and there was no sign of any feedback; how much longer it will be?

As a former leader of tender teams in major organisations, I prided myself on never having pulled an all-nighter, or asked my team to do the same. Instead I prefer to work smarter not harder; identifying and doing the things that matter the most, to the best possible quality, given the time and resources at hand. But in this instance, rightly or wrongly, I felt duty bound to do my bit.

As extreme as this experience was, working a live bid is by far the best way to see how companies operate. It’s really interesting, and in my view, the most effective form of discovery, the phase preceding advisory and hopefully change. I saw talented and dedicated people going above and beyond for their employer and leaders trying hard to motivate and support their team.

But at the same time, I saw many attributes of the struggling bid team:

  • Denial – everything is OK, it’s not so bad, and we are really quite good at bidding.
  • The ‘bid’ to ‘no bid’ flip flop – let’s bid, let’s not bid, let’s bid…. meanwhile the clock is ticking.
  • Under-resourcing – everyone busy on other things, let’s not spend money on external consultants.
  • Lack of real strategy – lots of thoughts of self-amazingness and very little regard for the client.
  • Being in the dark – not really knowing who we are bidding against and where they are strong and weak.
  • Acceptance – that late nights and inefficiency are considered OK and this extends right to the top of the tree.

Had I come in as a consultant to review their bidding processes and practices, I would not have learned anything like I did in those few days. I made a mental note that night to step up and continue the relentless pursuit of change and better bidding practices.

I wondered if I was the only one that thought that way, and what might drive an appetite for change in these types of circumstances; I wondered how prevalent this sort of thing is today in modern corporate Australia?

Sound familiar? Click here to find out more”

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