Ask Proposal Doctor – Eliminate daily standup meetings?

Dear Proposal Doctor,

My capture manager and solution architect are tired of the daily standup meeting and want to discontinue it. Others are grumbling as well. In fact, I can’t prove that it is efficient or that it adds value. I want to continue it, because that is how I was taught to manage proposals, but it is an uphill battle. What is your advice?

–Fighting the Good Fight

Dear Fighting,

Yes, the daily standup is part of the holy grail of our business. For a good reason! Every time I have been persuaded to discontinue this activity, and it has only happened rarely, the proposal has gone off the rails. Those who want to discontinue it usually assume that, as one person put it, “We are all talking to each other all day anyway.” Often that is not the case.

From where I sit, the call is essential and I insist on it, with the proviso that any individual call might get canceled if there is a genuine proposal emergency. (For example, the capture manager has been kidnapped by aliens.) The daily discipline pays off in the long run, even if it is hard to point to the value of any particular call. Concert pianists and athletes and writers and soldiers all have daily rituals that are part of achieving greatness in their profession. Ours is no different.

Here are some tips to make the call more palatable.

  • First, keep it short. I limit mine to 15 minutes, but if I end early I have some minutes in the bank that I can use in case I need a couple of extra minutes at a later meeting.
  • Second, use a standard agenda so people know what to expect.
  • Third, impart something new to the team at every meeting. Every 24 hours in a proposal, events occur that are of interest to the team. If there is nothing new from the customer, maybe there is a newspaper article about the competition. Maybe there is a weather or traffic announcement everyone needs to know about. Unless your proposal goes on for years, it should not be too hard to find something of value.

Keep fighting the good fight. The payoff is worth it.

All the best,

Wendy Frieman, The Proposal Doctor