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Why the Color Team Model Can't Be Fixed

The problems run far deeper than the lack of guidance that color team labels provide us with. The real problem is the lack of purpose and guidance in the color team model. The color team model does not add up to a completely validated proposal, because it was not designed to do that. Color team reviews were designed around a sequence of milestones. The reason they cannot be made to work is that you cannot define the scope of the reviews in such a way that they meet the need of the proposal for validation.

People have been unwilling to get rid of color teams because the need for quality proposals is supreme, and an ineffective attempt at it is perceived as better than no attempt. Is this the best that the industry can come up with? We can throw out the "red team" but keep the goals. Indeed, we must throw out the Red Team in order to achieve the goals.

The Red Team review in particular, and color team reviews in general, were created with good intentions. But they fail in implementation. If Red Teams are good in principle but can't be implemented effectively in practice, then I question whether they are any good. Without positive results after 20 years, Red Teams certainly can no longer be considered a best practice. Does it make sense for the entire industry to accept a process that no one can implement with consistent success? In spite of the good intentions, and in spite of the need, color team proposal reviews are a waste of time and resources. Even with Color Teams, the need for proposal validation is going un-met. It's time to drop Color Teams and replace them with some real validation. Call it evolution.

What we really need...

  • Well defined review scopes that validate specific items
  • A methodology that defines the review requirements according to the needs of each particular business and proposal
  • An approach that incorporates guidance for review team members
  • Approaches for conducting reviews that better fit what circumstances require
  • Less impact on proposal workflow ? reviews that can be conducted without freezing the baseline or requiring a wasted production cycle
  • A way to determine what level of review is sufficient
  • Traceability from issue through validation
  • Quality assurance and quality control (they are two different things)
  • Reviews that add value
  • Reviews that help the proposal win

How to Turn Down a Request for a Red Team

From now on, when I am asked "When will we have the Red Team," I will answer:

We are not having a Red Team. Red Teams are no longer a best practice. Instead we will explicitly identify what we are going to validate before submitting the proposal and we will validate each and every one. Some may require a meeting, some may just be a sign-off. I will prepare a Validation Plan that identifies each type of validation and how it will be performed and submit it for approval. When we execute the Validation Plan, people will know what is expected of them and receive appropriate guidance. This will add more value than I've ever seen a Red Team deliver.

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By Carl Dickson,
Founder of and PropLIBRARY

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