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50 Reasons Why Your Red Team is Broken

It was a tremendous step in the evolution of proposals when people began to recognize that every proposal should have a formal review by people other than those who wrote it. This review is almost universally called a "Red Team" review. The only problem is that I can't think of a single instance in several hundred proposals where a Red Team review has made a difference whether a proposal won or lost. This is probably because most Red Team reviews are flawed to the point of being nearly worthless. Your's probably is too. Here are some signs that your Red Team is broken:

  1. If you asked all of the participants to define a "Red Team," you'd get a different answer from each
  2. The goals for the Red Team are not explicitly defined
  3. Participants are not given specific directions regarding what to look for
  4. The Red Team does not have any checklists or written guidance to remind them of what to look for
  5. The burden of managing Red Team administration and logistics is left to the proposal team instead of being taken off of their hands
  6. The Red Team is scheduled too early and the document is not ready
  7. The Red Team is scheduled too late and there is not enough time to act on any suggestions
  8. The Red Team gives you the guidance you should have had at the start
  9. It is not clear who is driving: the Red Team or the proposal team
  10. The Red Team shows up without having actually read the proposal, cover to cover
  11. The Red Team is allowed to do their reading at their desks
  12. The Red Team shows up without having read the RFP
  13. Red Team participants have no assignment other than to read the entire proposal, cover to cover
  14. The Red Team is the only form of review planned for the proposal
  15. You limit the number and types of reviews you do to the number of colors you can name (red team, pink team, green team, blue team, purple team, gold team)
  16. You expect the red team to review compliance, accuracy, your approach, the persuasiveness of the writing, the completeness of the document, how you stack up against the evaluation criteria, implementation of win strategies, and incorporation of customer/solution/competitive awareness all at the same time…
  17. The same people who wrote the proposal are on the Red Team
  18. The Red Team is scheduled for only a couple of hours
  19. Participants have to leave early because they have other commitments
  20. The Red Team doesn't have an appointed leader, other than the proposal manager
  21. The Red Team identifies problems without offering solutions
  22. The Red Team does little more than what amounts to proof reading
  23. The Red Team wastes valuable time proof reading copy that is going to significantly change or tells you about formatting problems on a document that has yet to go through final production
  24. There is no guidance regarding how comments should be made
  25. The Red Team examines your strategies instead of the effectiveness of their implementation
  26. The Red Team wants to change the outline of the proposal
  27. The Red Team is effectively a review by the executive sponsor
  28. The Red Team looks at the proposal from their own perspective, instead of the customer's perspective
  29. Red Team participants think they need to read every comment they've written on the document while everyone is at the table
  30. The Red Team does not consolidate its own comments, but leaves that burden to the proposal team
  31. There is no discussion regarding how the Red Team's comments relate to or will impact the evaluation criteria
  32. Red Team comments fail to take into consideration the page limitation imposed by the RFP
  33. The Red Team expects to see the document again after the changes are made
  34. Red Team suggestions are expected to be taken as orders (the proposal team is not free to ignore a Red Team recommendation).
  35. If there are holes, the Red Team doesn't recommend any resources capable of filling the holes
  36. The proposal is so broken at the time of the Red Team that the Red Team can't do anything to help
  37. Participants make comments that are not actionable (generalized statements that don't specify a correction or action to take)
  38. The Red Team makes comments that contradict the RFP
  39. The Red Team does not result in a set of specific action items that can be worked through a process of elimination
  40. The Red Team doesn't take any time to meet as a group and discuss their findings before they debrief the proposal team
  41. Some people are on the Red Team simply because they want to see the document -- not because they have anything to contribute
  42. The Red Team identifies all of the defects, resulting in a proposal that merely answers the mail because they didn't look at what it takes to win
  43. They aren't physically present
  44. You haven't validated enough because you tried to do too much in a single review.
  45. All of the technical expertise available is on the proposal team, leaving none for an independent assessment
  46. The debrief consists only of the participants taking turns sharing their thoughts
  47. The Red Team doesn't score the proposal according to the evaluation criteria
  48. The Red Team doesn't do anything but score the proposal according to the evaluation criteria
  49. The Red Team doesn't offer any useful advice or help (as opposed to criticisms)
  50. The Red Team doesn't do anything to help the proposal WIN!

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By Carl Dickson,
Founder of and PropLIBRARY

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