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Filling in the details for the big picture thinkers

Filling in the details for the big picture thinkers

On Tender

I can’t be the only one who sometimes gets the wrong impression about what our prime minister, John Key, is actually trying to say.

Key is certainly a fast talker, and he definitely has a tendency to run words together. Sometimes, catching him on late night television, you might even be tempted to believe he’s joined you in that second glass of chardonnay.

Next time he’s on telly, listen to his frequent sibilant esses. Put those together with the usual clipped vowels of the Kiwi accent (which in Key’s case fades in and out as if a sound engineer is working some sort of control on a mixing desk) and you can begin to feel some sympathy towards those US State Department officials who managed to misinterpret his remarks at the end of an international conference in Rarotonga recently.

The end of conference communiqué reported Key as saying "…we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the US in the next conflicts."

Of course the Prime Minister’s Office quickly stepped in and explained that what he’d really said was: “We welcome the opportunity to cooperate. In that context..."

Thankfully, the State Department’s mistake was corrected before it had time to result in any really ghastly consequences such as causing a run on the dollar or starting World War III, but according to reports it did “outrage” bloggers and it sent “Twitter abuzz” - which to a politician heading a minority government could be almost as bad.

So, why am I bringing this up, and what does it have to do with IT tenders?

The point I am making is this: if the nation’s front-man can be misinterpreted so easily when he’s trying to send a message to the world at an international forum, how can you be sure that your company’s hastily-compiled tender submission is hitting the right note?

Now, there are couple of advantages that you will have over Key. First, you’ll get to read your own “communiqué” before it goes out, and second, using the written word in our tender submissions means that there is no fear of being misinterpreted by our accents, however they might sound.

Or so you would think.

A good friend of mine recently cajoled me into taking a Myers-Briggs personality test. (I passed. Apparently I have one). This attempt to group people by traits can be useful in understanding and communicating with one another. It teaches us that we treat one another with prejudices and preconceptions and these may be inadvertently triggered, whether we are speaking at a Pacific form or responding to a tender.

Evaluators of tenders almost certainly fall into a particular Myyers-Briggs type: the INTJs, who are introverted, intuitive, thinking, and judging. A broad claim, to be sure, but compromise is for squibs. INTJs are bound to be summing up your propositions because that’s what they aspire to, being judging personalities and all.

Submitters of proposals, on the other hand, are a different species. They belong to the ENTP group which stands for extroversion, intuition, thinking and perception. They are big picture people, with rarely the brain-space for details. Unfortunately these traits are precisely what our judgemental INTJs are on the look out for, to hold against you.

There's really only one way to overcome the gap when it comes to your proposals.

Creative big thinkers will have the enthusiasm, optimism, and invention to create brilliant ideas. But they need to infuse some of that INTJ ability to dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s. Think of it like star signs. Instead of assigning one enthusiastic employee to submit a proposal, assign two, but give them half the time each. This will ensure that you’ve not only spent the same amount of investment in the prop’s creation but that it is much more likely to be matched to the psychological preferences of the intended reader. Of course there are many out there who look at this entire world of personality evaluation by highly qualified psychologists as complete and utter nonsense. It’s nothing more than pseudo horoscopes for dim-witted intellectuals, they say. What we really need is solid proposals simply describing our products or services and the price on offer. But that’s typical Gemini.


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