Richard Bird on why “Winning The Project Can Be More Art Than Science” 12 Oct 2005

7 comments Latest by Christopher Fahey

Richard Bird shares his experience about why Winning The Project Can Be More Art Than Science on their About Design blog.

He cites three specific points of issue:

  1. The Real Decision Maker(s) are protected
  2. The Real Criteria on which the decision is finally made is not in the brief
  3. Creativity, Process, and Experience may not be among them

A good, quick read for anyone doing client work.

7 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Christopher Hawkins 12 Oct 05

The final couple of sentences really hit home for me:

“When the past is no longer working and the future demands brand or product reinvention, why choose to go with what’s familiar? When courage is required, why choose comfort?”

Software remediation is 75% of my business, meaning that the vast majority of my clients come to me because they tried to hire some kid on the cheap and got garbage - garbage that they now need fixed. Yet, almost to a person, they ask me to “fix it, but don’t really change anything”.


The level of historical acknowledgement and institutional courage required to scrap something that clearly does not work is usually nowhere to be found.

And as far as RFP processes being land-mined with invisible requirements…don’t even get me started on that.

Great article, thanks for the link.

Neusa 12 Oct 05

Hi, there.
I visited your blog because of the word “design”, I�m interested in things related to it.
I would like to read something about “MMS” messages on cell phones. Do you think it will change the way people relationships are made? Rgds, Neusa (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Scott T. 12 Oct 05

“….my clients come to me because they tried to hire some kid on the cheap and got garbage…”

It’s not just “kids” that produce garbage. I’ve seen plenty of garbage put together by developers of all ages and institutional affiliations … and I ain’t been around that long.

Micah 12 Oct 05

The “Real Criteria” point falls a little short for me. The fact that something isn’t stated in an RFP doesn’t mean that you should feel confined to those parameters. Moreover, not highlighting retail experience when proposing to a retail chain seems, well, silly. Think of it from the client’s perspective: show them something even they didn’t think of, and that will show your value-add.

Richard Bird 12 Oct 05

Excellent point, Micah. Sometimes we can’t see what’s right in front of our faces.

What wasn’t evident in my R.BIRD post are dialogues with the prospect that led us to believe we were sought solely for our creative and for no other reason.

Unfortunately, we were “blinded by the light.”

Great point made and a good lesson.

Richard Bird 12 Oct 05

One more thought on Mica’s post:

It’s absolutely imperative to remain focused on what is *not* said as much as what *is*.

Too often, what *is* said can become a smokescreen and a distraction. Very difficult to recognize and deflect.

Christopher Fahey 13 Oct 05

Lots of stuff that is not specifically asked for in an RFP is almost always important for a design/development firm to anticipate and address in their proposals. And, yes, the stuff that IS specifically asked for is sometimes incorrect strategically for the project.

But before you go off and try to read between the lines, make sure that you have clearly and thoroughly addressed every single thing specifically asked for in the RFP. Some decision makers will not be savvy enough about the project or involved enough in the project to understand why you have gone “off the ranch”, and they will only look to see if you addressed criteria a,b,c,d, and e. And even those decision makers who would understand and deeply appreciate your efforts to address unstated or unanticipated project concerns will want to know that you cared enough about the project to address criteria a,b,c,d, and e. In other words, even the most misguided RFP criteria is a perfectly legitimate tool for the potential client to gauge whether or not you know how to “follow directions.”