The Business Plan: Information Interviews

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(The Coffee Shop Chronicles, Part 2)

 Time for coffee at last! Maggie already has a table reserved for us.

Gail: Maggie-great to see you. How’s the consulting life?

Maggie: Just about to wrap up one project, another one about to start, and it’s soccer season—the twins are really into it this year. Here’s George!

George: Ladies! Time to put our heads together again.

Chris arrives, smiling broadly.

Chris: Hey, everyone, have I got news! I have a gig! No kidding. It just dropped into my lap. Now I really need to decide what to do.

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Double-loop Learning for Consultants: Moving Beyond the Quick Fix


GettyImages 154966273_Woman_with_file_folderConsultants have short attention spans. We like to get in, get it done, and get out again so we can move on to the next project. This is in part because we bore easily and the grass looks greener in our next project but it is also due to our continued need for new business. Unless we return for a repeat performance, we get limited feedback from our clients and can neither judge the full effect of our work or nor learn what happened afterwards.

Because our skills are technical in nature, as time passes we develop a repertoire of assumptions, methods, and techniques which make it increasingly difficult to be open to the complexities we face. The mental models that guide our actions become more rigid and can result in what SchÓ§n calls a parochial narrowness of vision. We find ourselves offering solutions in search of a problem.

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So What Makes a Good Proposal?

Young Girl with LaptopWhen you write a proposal, you want to show off your knowledge, your creativity, and your cool technology. Clients want something much simpler. They want what they asked for, in the order they asked for it, using the language and terminology they used in their Request for Proposals (RFP). While this seems like a no brainer, reviewers have told me over and over that at least 70% of proposals do not follow instructions and do not address the criteria outlined in the RFP. Sadly, all of these end up in the reject pile. The good news for you is that you can cut your competition to 30% in a single blow by giving the clients what they want.

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