Your firm does really good work. Your buildings don’t fall down. Your treatment plants perform to spec. Your control systems operate flawlessly.
Well done, You!
But there’s a problem.
Your competitors do really good work too. Competence is everywhere. It’s assumed. And it’s no longer valued.
Pull out a recent proposal that you’ve submitted to any client and read through it. You’ll discover that you’re selling competence. Here’s a real example (with names changed):
Acme Engineering has extensive experience with conducting and reviewing HUD Environmental Assessments in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and 24 CFR Part 58. In addition to conducting the Environmental Assessments for 26 projects in Jefferson County worth approximately $210 million, Acme provided quality control reviews for the remaining 41 regional projects in surrounding counties.
Man!, are these folks capable! But so are dozens, if not hundreds of other firms. Mere competence isn’t what’s needed anymore.
What’s needed in today’s cash-strapped, deficit-ridden, multi-priority and overwhelmingly complicated world is innovative, creative solutions to a whole new class of really sticky problems. How can we replace a crumbling infrastructure when we’re up to our ears in debt? Tackle THAT problem and you’ll be in demand everywhere.
While it may sound glib, you’re doing the easy stuff. You’re solving the easy problems. The same problems that thousands of firms can solve.
Are you making a contribution to this new class of really tough tests or are you waiting for someone else to solve them so you can do the easy stuff? Your firm’s future depends on these big challenges being solved. So what unexpected team are you assembling? What non-traditional but vital talents are you adding? What strange bedfellows are you joint-venturing with in order to tackle these unprecedented challenges?
If we wait around for someone else to define the problem, create the scope of work and figure out how to pay for it, there’ll be no shortage of talent who are then ready to find a ‘solution.’ But today’s challenges and your firm’s future lie in those difficult first three steps. What is your firm doing to play on THAT stage? Someone has to solve these problems. Why not you?
When was the last time you sat down with an economist or an investment banker to see how you might pool talents and resources? When was the last time you included a politician on your team so you could redefine the problem and develop a totally unexpected solution? When was the last time you invited someone whose knowledge area was radically different than yours to bring a new perspective to your firm? When was the last time you stuck your toe into some truly different water?
It’s time to stop blaming the economy, your clients, the politicians, the Procurement Department or whoever else might be blocking your way to success. It’s time to stop waiting for prosperity in exchange for competence. It’s time to change, to stretch, to go far beyond mere competence and start tackling the really hard problems of today.
You and your team are way beyond competent - you’re creative, resourceful and innovative. Can you also be daring?
Today it’s absolutely essential that your proposal be eye-popping, attention-grabbing, brain-engaging and cool. You see, your competitors can match your credentials and experience step-for-step. So without that special sauce, that WOW! factor, you’re going to either come second, or find yourself in a bidding war.
Join me on Thursday, September 6 and you'll never, ever write another boring proposal.