When we work in a capture, there are many challenges to overcome in order to realize a win. Beyond managing the many moving parts of a complex contract capture, we encounter what is often our greatest foe – ourselves.
Why are we so dangerous…well, to our own interests? Simple.
We lie to ourselves.
Do we intentionally think or do things contrary to our own interests? Not necessarily. However, all too often we find people and teams engaging in patterns of thought which are ultimately self-deceptive. Consider these competitor misconceptions and how each could create blind spots leading to your loss.
No directly relevant past performance = LOSER!
Is a competitor with no obvious past performance immediately out of the running? Are you sure? Why is this such a typical trap?
- Stretching the “quals” – How many times have YOU (the reader) engaged in the art of “stretching your quals?” Why is your competition not going to skillfully engage in the same practice?
- Lack of clarity into competitor’s experience – Is there experience they have which is not readily known or accessible? Do you have perfect knowledge of their complete body of work? No intelligence is perfect and that applies to YOU, too.
- Past performance is not necessarily a path to a win – What is stated in the evaluation criteria? Is past performance significant? We often find capture teams placing weight in past performance even when the evaluation says otherwise …especially when it suits their interests. Enter the land of wishful thinking…
Please stop falling into this trap. Just because there isn’t a visible and immediately obvious strong precedence of experience for a competitor, it doesn’t mean they are on a path to a loss.
Internal turmoil = LOSER!
Anyone in the working world for almost any amount of time has experienced workplace turmoil. This happens through leadership disruptions, mergers & acquisitions, workforce turnover, etc.
While it is VERY possible that internal strife will distract or disrupt activities and cohesiveness of capture teams, why oh why do opposing capture teams insist on this as a path to a loss? If that happens, our good friend called natural selection will impede the competitor’s efforts to win. However, measuring “internal turmoil” as a competitor weakness is inherently unreliable.
Focus on your approach to win and stop worrying about something you can’t do much about.
We’re just the best! = LOSER!
It never ceases to amaze me in a Black Hat review – in which we craft competitor win strategies – when the team comes up with plausible, high threat approaches for their competitors.
Alas, when it is time to flip the script and we begin working through how our team defeats these competitor approaches, that newfound knowledge seems to evaporate. The same team that carefully crafted the competitor strategy often switches to openly dismiss the competitors in favor of their own team’s AMAZING counters which will (obviously) win the day.
When teams are so focused on spinning their story to crush the competition, it begs the question of “what makes you think you are so unbeatable?” Pause for a moment to think of every single incumbent loss you have ever experienced or known. How many of them knew they would lose?
Remember this simple statement.
“You are not a special little snowflake.”
You have competitors who can and will match every single move you make. These self-serving “we’re just the best” thoughts lead to losses. Evaluate each competitor’s capabilities as if they were your own. Then line them up to what you actually have and see where the you start to fall behind.
The goal of these evaluations is to determine where your team has to improve in order to win – sugar coating your position and ignoring the competition only makes it easier for other bidders to defeat you.
We are often our own worst enemy. Be honest about your competition. Give them respect.
Be honest about you and your prospects to win – it is better to default to be overly critical in order to avoid complacency. This is easier stated than done. Consider the involvement of trusted advisors inside and outside your organization to help you think and act more clearly. For additional tips on objective evaluation, see our blog on specific biases and fallacies, which may be a great guideline to consider as you self-correct.
Stay focused. Do your homework. Happy hunting!
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