Winning by a nose

A little over a month ago I was working with some clients on a particularly large and complex tender. The RFT was some 370 pages and generated an astounding 761 clarification questions! It was a beast of a thing requiring volumes of information, drafting numerous new documents and then fitting it all within very strict word limits. People were working 16 hour days and some suppliers had reportedly thrown their hands in the air and walked away.

Grumble Grumble

As the lodgement date drew near some of our clients were started to mumble things like “I am sick of this thing, I can’t wait to get it over with.” Others said, “We have been at this for weeks; I am starting to not care and just want to get rid of this thing”. All perfectly natural but unfortunately short-sighted. I worked on encouraging them to continue by saying “a few days after the tender closes you will be refreshed and feeling your old self again, but remember this – your tender will be exactly the same as when you submitted it. It will not freshen up, no matter how many sleep-ins it has.”
This really brought home the need to stay focused and work hard, right to the wire. Why? Because the Tender Evaluation Panel will have no idea how exhausted you and your team were when they open your tender to the harsh light of the evaluation room and the reality of your competitors. What’s more they won’t even care.

Surviving the Photo Finish

This beast of a tender was due on 7 November, a few days after the Melbourne Cup. As I watched the final two horses emerge from the pack and battle it out over the final 150 metres it struck me how similar it was to winning tenders. What if Viewed, the eventual winner, felt like my tendering colleagues and started thinking 50 metres from the finish line that, “Gee I’m tired. Three months ago I was in the paddock chewing sweet green grass. I’ve been building to this for weeks, worked hard all race, opened up a good lead and now here comes that pest Bauer. I’ve busted a gut for 3150 metres and I can’t wait until this is over. Wonder what’s happening in the home paddock now?” No, neither Viewed nor Bauer (or their jockeys) had any thoughts other than straining every sinew in one of the classic, nose by nose, battles to reach that finish line first.

Recovery is Quick, Results Last Much Longer

So the morale is very clear. If you want to win the big prizes you need to stay focused and push through to the very end. Take the focus off you and put it on your tender and keep in mind the heartlessness of the Evaluation Panel as they wade through the mountains of tender documents. There is time enough to rest when your tender has been lodged in the very best shape it could be. Do you think Viewed or his jockey remembered how tired or stressed they were a few days after the big race?