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Challenges and Solutions for Team Proposal Writing. Ryan Weber Rocket City Technical Communication Conference. Team Proposal Writing. Complex, sustained proposal efforts often require huge teams for completion

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challenges and solutions for team proposal writing

Challenges and Solutions for Team Proposal Writing

Ryan Weber

Rocket City Technical Communication Conference

team proposal writing
Team Proposal Writing
  • Complex, sustained proposal efforts often require huge teams for completion
  • These teams can be a strength and weakness, as coordinating members of interdisciplinary, cross-functional teams can prove challenging
  • Presentation covers challenges and solutions offered by two professional writing ethnographies
aerospace company
Aerospace Company
  • “Bridging Boundaries, Negotiating Differences: The Nature of Leadership in Cross-Functional Proposal Writing Teams.” Roxanne Kent-Drury. Technical Communication. 2000.
  • Ethnography examines 10 years of proposal writing strategies at an aerospace company
aerospace company1
Aerospace Company
  • Challenges
    • Proposal teams change frequently
    • Proposal writers are temporary loans from other departments, and team members “maintain their line affiliations outside the proposal group and so occupy ‘boundary-spanning’ positions in the company” (91)
    • Proposal managers are often inexperienced managers who lack authority
    • Writers can go unsupervised and produce proposals that don’t match corporate or audience expectations
aerospace company2
Aerospace Company
  • Solutions
    • Reliable, prominent schedule tracking system
      • Proposal libraries containing drafts of all sections
      • Proposal scheduling devices that chart progress
    • Negotiating responsibility and accountability
      • Proposal managers must negotiate because they lack authority
      • Proposal manager circulates frequently
    • Officially designated, neutral space
      • Proposal “bullpen” where writers can work
atherton jordan inc
Atherton Jordan, Inc
  • “Proposal Writing at Atherton Jordan, Inc.” Claudia MonPereMcIssac and Mary Ann Aschauer. Management Communication Quarterly. 1990.
  • Atherton Jordan is a pseudonym for large Silicon Valley engineering firm heavily reliant on proposals
  • Ethnography follows seven engineers for eight months
atherton jordan inc1
Atherton Jordan, Inc
  • Challenges
    • Contracts are high stakes, involving investments of $500,000 to $1,000,000
    • Proposal environment involves 40-100 people following 52-step process that writers describe as “pressure-cooker”
    • Writers have trouble anticipating audience needs, questions
    • Engineers dislike writing and follow writing advice too rigidly
atherton jordan inc2
Atherton Jordan, Inc
  • Solutions
    • “Corporate consensus about corporate writing standards”
    • Proposal Operations Center
      • Provides management, instructional materials, scheduling help
    • Storyboarding
      • Collaborative brainstorming technique
    • Red Team
      • Independent review team that serves as simulated review audience for first drafts of proposals
team proposal writing strategies
Team Proposal Writing Strategies
  • Provide neutral location that legitimizes team
  • Make the writing process visible and public
  • Establish strong leadership that can coordinate groups and maintain an overall vision of the project
  • Generate consensus about document standards and vocabulary
  • Provide mechanisms for offering an audience perspective on the document