Many organizations have evolved to the point where it is universally accepted that every proposal should have a Red Team. While this was a major step, it's not enough. People have tried to overcome the limitations of the Red Team by inventing a host of other "Color Teams" (red team, pink team, green team, blue team, purple team, gold team). Color team labels mean so many things to different people that they have become meaningless. If people can't consistently answer what a "Red Team" is supposed to be, how on earth are they going to consistently define a "Blue Team." And while I am sure that you, gentle reader, know what a Red Team and a Blue Team is supposed to be, it doesn't do any good unless all of the stakeholders share a common set of expectations. It's time to evolve past the "Red Team."
The purpose of any Color Team is to validate the proposal. The problem is that there are many things that need to be validated:
- Capture planning
- Content planning
- Review planning
- Production Planning
- Effectiveness of the approach
- Persuasiveness of the writing
- Completeness of the document
- How you stack up against the evaluation criteria
- Implementation of win strategies
- Incorporation of customer/solution/competitive awareness
- Pricing, profitability, and return on the cost of sales
- Contractual issues
If you want to take your organization to the next level, instead of dumbing down by using Color Team labels, educate them in what it means to validate a proposal. Add, change, or delete the items on the list above until they make sense. And then create checklists and job aids to encourage people to validate everything during the development of the proposal.
Maybe a sit-around-the-table Color Team-style formal review makes sense for addressing some of what you need to validate. But which ones? And how are you going to handle the others? For example, do you need a team to evaluate compliance? On some proposals you can give a copy of the RFP and the proposal to an engineer and ask them to tell you if you've covered everything. On other proposals that would be the last thing you'd want to do.
So how about instead of accepting it as gospel that every proposal must have a "Red Team," you require that every proposal have a review plan. And every review plan must address a list of validation targets, such as the one above. The plan itself should be reviewed at the beginning of the proposal effort.
Formal reviews are still a good idea and you can even still call it a "Red Team" if it makes you happy. Only now it is clear whether you are assessing the evaluation score, reviewing strategy, assessing accuracy, ensuring compliance, evaluating the persuasiveness, or something else. And if the "Red Team" is focused, the way it should be, on just one or two of these things, you still know that the others have been validated through other means.
Some companies do this now, using their traditional "Color Teams." However, is your goal to have a set number of color-labeled meetings or is it to validate specific aspects of what it takes to have a successful proposal? If you've successfully matured to the point where you routinely have your "Red Team," maybe it's time to evolve further and train your organization to address validation specifically…