What Bid Teams Can Learn from Formula One (Part 2)

So last week we were pontificating that keeping egos in check and not letting the bid leader
get too big for their boots will benefit the final result, but in our nerdy discussions we found that
there were other cross overs between these worlds.

A winning bid brings together a range of inputs, ideas, messages and visuals into a single cohesive whole. The harsh reality is that very rarely does a bid make it out of the door in perfect condition – whether due to time pressures, human failures or all manner of interactions which can de-rail them along the timeline of the project.

One of the key things we often see in bid teams across various organisations is that as a deadline nears the initial large team which worked on separate elements then tends to drift away to focus down to a smaller group with that difficult dual goal of refining the content and getting it out the door. This is where the mistakes begin to creep in.

The key for the final days of a bid is a need for multiple people to work fast, accurately and as a team to get the best possible result. It's here that our previous analogy to teams in Formula One comes in. At the same Malaysian Grand Prix which Vettel broke team orders, his pit crew managed to change all four wheels on his car in just 2.4 seconds. Twenty people working together in an area the size of a parking bay in perfect harmony to reach a deadline in 2.4 seconds.

They achieve their astonishing speed and accuracy largely due to practice obviously, but from our point of view there are two other crucial elements. Each individual has only one simple task to complete in their 2.4 seconds, but there is also one person (the man at the front with the lollipop) who is in charge of the whole overview of the operation, and crucially that person never gets involved in actually putting a wheel on!

This is the key for a major bid team working on a response. At the head of the team you need somebody who is able to take a step back from the minutiae, to ensure that it is all coming together and heading in the right direction. If this person gets pulled too far into the details then they will not only get in the way of people who should be doing each task, but they will also lose their ability to see the wider picture.

Once this person is installed at the top it is then important to keep the other individuals focused on individual and achievable tasks to each so that, as a whole, no one is overloaded. This enables each person to focus completely on their one element and do it to the highest quality.

This will not always deliver a perfect result (witness Jenson Button losing a top ten due to a failure in getting a wheel done up) but it drastically reduces the chances of errors and will help you towards delivering the ideal result. So if your bids always seem to come down to one or two people burning the midnight oil to plough through the final document, then maybe it is time to take a step back and look at how you can employ a wider team to deliver tasks better – and who it is (internal or externally) you can use to oversee the team.

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