Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Getting the Basics Right: How a Company Tendering for a Publishing Job Messed It Up

Goal setting isn't just a matter of having a good goal. It's also about understanding the foundation underlying the goal. Know your aim. Know it backwards. Then evaluate your goal setting program against your aims and objectives to make sure that you end up delivering something that will serve you.

Get the basics wrong, and you'll end up achieving the wrong end result. Get these basics clear, and get them right, and you're on the path to achieving what you WANT to achieve.

Here's an illustration of how hazy understanding of the basics let one company down in a big way.

I've just come back from a meeting out in Rooihuiskraal. I was one of the panelists evaluating tender documents for a publishing project. I can't give you specific details, because I'm under a confidentiality agreement. But I can give you the principles.

A South African government body asked publishers to tender for the business of creating a quarterly magazine in a particular interest field. The tender document was very specific, and had numerous points that needed to be adhered to. Because of the strictness of the criteria that needed to be met, only three publishing companies made it through to the panel for evaluation, as the rest had been whittled away due to not meeting the criteria.

So the panel sat, studying the three documents.

Two of them looked promising. One, however, didn't stand a hope of making it to the final selection. The publisher who submitted that particular document really didn't pay attention to the brief.

The brief stated explicitly that the publishing company needs to furnish resumes of the key crew who would be publishing the magazine, showing clearly that these key crew members had specific experience in the subject the magazine would be covering.

This company didn't even give resumes of their crew! Instead, they gave resumes of their directors! What's worse... the directors had NO experience in the subject under discussion!!! Nothing. Nada. If we were evaluating on this single criterion, these guys would already have been disqualified. But that's not the only area they fell down in. They were asked to supply examples of previous publications they had done on the topic. These guys elected to provide a magazine in a completely unrelated field, as well as an annual report for a company that had nothing to do with the subject matter either.

Bang. Cheerio to this company.

The lesson? Pay attention to the basics. If you set yourself specific goals, and you're clear to yourself about the foundations beneath those goals, be sure to be strict with yourself in following your own plan. Otherwise you might lose the tender.

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