Art is in the eye of the beholder. This is mine.
Proposals are more mechanical than art. They are more scientific. They are quantifiable. They are competitive. They are capitalistic.
And they are art.
There is a depth to doing proposals that most people don't understand and it holds them back.
But the art in proposals is not where most people expect to find it. The art is not in the construction, the presentation, or the style of the words. The art is in the solution. And not just in the solution that you offer to the customer. When you reconcile what you intend to offer with the evaluation criteria and gain insight into how to be the best among all who would make the attempt, and then somehow combine all that into a vision that is compelling, you turn the ordinary into a great work of art.
The art in proposals reflects the beautiful nature of growth. For growth is the source of all opportunity, and without it everything withers. Growth is personal, but we are at our best as humans when we grow together. For companies that depend on winning business through proposals, proposals are so much more than a necessary step toward gaining new business. Proposals are an expression of how you develop as a team and as a company, how you bring value to your customers, and how we grow as individuals. Proposals are a dynamic form of art that brings forth the beauty of growth.
The art in proposals is in the interpretation. How should the requirements be interpreted? What is our relationship to them? What could they add up to? What could we become? What insights are required? What do the words in the RFP mean? What do they imply in terms of expectations? How should the potential future be envisioned in order to create a proposal that makes the world better? Proposals are significant works of art.
The art in proposals is in the meaning. Not the literal meaning of the words, but the meaning that the proposal brings to those who work on it, the meaning it brings to those who work on the project that results from it, the meaning it brings to the customer, and the meaning it brings to the customer's stakeholders. Invisible and behind the scenes, proposals bring immense meaning to the entire world. The beauty of the words is not in their grammar or even poetry. It is in their meaning. Proposals are a intentional act to discover what matters and turn that meaning into impact. And that is more art than art.
And yet everyone hates doing proposals. There is art even in that.
Proposal specialists are sometimes treated like an expensive, undesired artist. There is art in the struggle.
To be a proposal artist does not mean to practice something intangible, imprecise, or without substance. To be a proposal artist means to bring meaning and growth to the world, through deliberate acts of interpretation and brilliant insight that no one else is willing or able to provide, that bring together people who need each other. Be a proposal artist and be proud of it.
Of course it is also art produced under a deadline. So sometimes it might be art like a Bob Ross painting. But you can be proud of that, too.
Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY
Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.