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Reserve the 'Silver Bullets' for the Pretend 'Strategists'

Reserve the 'Silver Bullets' for the Pretend 'Strategists'
You’ll hear plenty of people in this space banging on about “win themes” and “silver bullets”.

Let's get clear on something . . . something that is rooted in sheer logic:

A “win theme” is not something you “come up with”. It’s a core, success-critical competitive strength or advantage that is identified through careful and thorough research (including that which is conducted long before the tender call documentation is released). 

If your research is sufficiently thorough, the true win theme (or themes) will be uncovered naturally in the course of the research and competitive analysis process. They will, in a sense, “identify themselves”.

If you’ve hired in an external specialist who refers to “coming up with a win theme” or “deciding what our silver bullet will be” . . . run the proverbial mile in the other direction. (If your team members or employees make these “coming up with” and “deciding” references, give them a copy of my signature book, 'Think & Win Bids' . I'm serious.)

I refuse to work with the outputs of these "Flipchart Facilitators" who - masquerading as strategists - produce a bundle of flipchart sheets containing skeletal "mind maps", barely-connected bullet points, flow charts, and other squiggles encircling the latest trendy terminology, compliment this with a few pages of captured conversation, and pass off the result as a "bid strategy". 

It's no wonder 99 percent of organisations produce 99 percent sheer brochureware in response to an EOI, RFP or RFT: They either leap into the writing part of the exercise without any form of strategy or, not much better, somehow believe the contents of this form of "workshop" will magically guide and inform their documentation. 

Mind Map Bubbles & Bullet Points Do Not Constitute A Strategy

How does a pile of mind map bubbles and bullet points, spread across 30 pieces of butcher's paper, supplemented with a rambling and disjointed, "ideas"-based written commentary, amount to a solid, guiding strategy and a comprehensive, directional blueprint?

The "key messages" I've seen generated during such self-congratulatory, feel-good fests have frequently been put forward without any specific, in-depth research into the client or project and the numerous facets of its operating (including its own competitive) environment. They're inch-deep, directionless and almost always focus on bringing forward self-justifications for the random ideas generated by the (forgive me) juvenile "break-away group" competitions that facilitators favour, in order to produce as many marker pen-covered flipsheets as possible (with which to impressively paper the conference room walls). 

None of this constitutes a strategy. And it's misleading to imply that it does. 

I refer anyone interested in a comprehensive definition (and processes for producing) bid strategy, to Chapter Six - What IS Bid Strategy? of 'Think & Win Bids: Winning High-Value, High-Stakes Bids through Superior Questioning, Listening & Thinking Skills' .

In the meantime, reserve your (silver) bullets for the facilitators posing as strategists.