It's not me, it's you.

A friend and colleague often says, "Feedback: It's what champions eat for breakfast" or "Feedback is the breakfast of champions" or some cheesy-ass saying that is better suited for a poster than a post-project chat over lattes.  Whatever the phrase, the gist is that we all benefit from hearing the (presumably) honest, objective observations from those who we're attempting to support (our clients).  

After a losing bid, I rarely see a proposal team forego the opportunity to reach out and  schedule an official debrief.  So, I'll avoid the obvious suggestion that you should do that as I believe most people do. Unfortunately, many of the debriefs that occur are really too watered down to offer any actionable insights for the next bid. I think this is the contracting officer and technical team's attempt to reduce their risk and be polite. Ugh!

In the interest of getting more value out of the exchange on both sides, I'm curious to know what (if any) prep you do in advance.  Does your team coordinate questions or at least have a specific concern in mind?

I was reading this writer's suggestions on ways to gather feedback.  The audience for this particular message was online retailers but suggestions number 2 and 4 might apply.  The principles of "make it easy" and "solicit feedback online" made me wonder if there was a more creative alternative to getting the information we really want from our prospective clients.  Specifically, what about a short survey that included questions like:

  1. How well did we demonstrate our understanding of your organization?
  2. Rate how clearly we articulated our approach?  Were there any specific concerns or "that would never work" reactions?
  3. Do you believe our proposed staff understand the challenge and care about the problem? 
  4. How well did we describe our plan for ensure contract and financial success?

From time to time, we are asked in advance of a debrief to submit any questions.  This might be a great opportunity to submit a set that gets more at the heart of what you want (and need!) to know to craft better stories in the future.