In the world of bids and proposals the kick off is arguably the most important milestone of any pursuit. It's a chance to get your team together, set the right tone for the next few weeks and make sure everyone is lined up to make your bid a success.
But, more often than not, kick offs are rushed and procedural, focused on digging into the detail of the bid. I have been guilty of not paying enough attention to this critical stage in the process, and so, I've decided my kick offs need a reboot.
It's time to make kick offs great again!
Do a Pre-Kick Off
To avoid the procedural nightmare, a pre-kick off is a must. Too often I've been in meetings where we lose ourselves agreeing who'll contribute to which question and even what a good answer will look like. The purpose of a pre-kick off is to agree with senior stakeholders some of the ground rules - reporting, roles, responsibilities and potential contributors. This has to still be a collaborative approach, it's not a place for slopey shoulders, but getting agreement on the process means you can focus on launching the bid, not getting bogged down in detail, at your kick off.
Galvanise the team
Bids are tough. They can be stressful, can often require a good deal of diplomacy and need collaboration at the heart of the process. The kick off is a chance to bring the team together, make sure everyone understands their role and to establish the behaviours within the team that will ensure success.
Make it fun
Kick offs need to be entertaining and memorable. When the bid gets challenging, having a positive common experience within the team will help you bring them back to a positive place. Running a group exercise, taking the team out of their comfort zone or working to break down barriers will pay dividends in the long run.
Re-visit and re-affirm your win themes
With the client documents in hand, the kick off is a chance to re-visit your win themes and ensure they still line up with the client's expectations and goals. The kick off is also a chance to ensure the team are bought into your win themes, and you should give them the opportunity to challenge them and re-affirm them together.
Create a level playing field
Setting prep work for your team is a good way to make sure everyone understands the client documents, the evaluation process and your bid process. But more often than not, busy teams don't always do their prep work. Whilst I'm not an advocate of a line-by-line review of documents, setting some time aside to make sure everyone understands what's required should be within your kick off agenda.
Bids rely on rapid, easy communications, both for reporting and also to make sure everyone is kept abreast of client changes and important information. Making sure the whole team understands how they communicate with one another and also the communication lines to stakeholders and seniors, makes sure there's no misunderstandings or miscommunications along the way.
My final tip is be flexible. Whilst bodies like the APMP recommend a substantial and in-depth agenda, you need to find a solution that works for your bid and your team. Whilst avoiding rushing the process, you need to make sure you change and adjust your approach to suit different bid requirements. Taking time on every pursuit to get the kick off right is time well spent.
Overall, there's no perfect solution for a bid kick off. It takes time to get it right, and even when you think you've got a plan that works, a different group of stakeholders will react differently and you're back to the drawing board.
I'd be interested to get your thoughts and insights, whether you're a bid professional, or are reading this and applying it to a project you're about to launch. Drop me a message on LinkedIn!