Integrity – The work is done right, or it’s not done

In the zero hours of one of the first of many lengthy final production reviews, a former mentor told me, “Never be afraid to point out an error, yours or someone else’s, that could cost us the bid. Even if finding it means a 24-hour workday, driving across the country and reprinting in an Office Depot®” Sure enough, during that review, I found one such error. I also learned a valuable lesson about why integrity is important. The team and I worked through the night to correct the error and a few of us had to drive the bid across two states in about nine-and-half hours to meet our submission window. We luckily didn’t have to produce it in an Office Depot®, but I’ve done that too. We ended up winning that opportunity, and it is through a tremendous sense of pride I can say we did. What we found and changed was the difference between winning and losing.  I’ve done all of those things I mentioned (24-hour power benders, driving across the country, and printing in an Office Depot®), and I will continue to do so proudly because, to me, it is always about integrity. It’s very easy to just say to yourself, “It will be okay. Nobody will notice.” At the end of the day, we are only human. An evaluator may not catch an error that was made. Plenty of business development teams win with an error-riddled bid, but I can assure you they lose plenty more. Getting done with what is required of us and getting it done right, even when it is hard, is always the right thing to do. Consider the equivalent of this practice like hedging every single bet you can make; proposals are risk-based agreements after all. Some will say winning is winning, but winning smart is what keeps you winning. It also shows customers a real commitment, that you know what you are doing, and that you can be continually relied upon to align your interests to theirs. After all, the work you do keeps them employed often times as well. What was said to me that night continually resonates on every single bid I work on.  As someone who grew up in farm country, working in the muddy sugar beet fields, I can safely say, “The work is done right or it is not done.” Crafting proposals with that mentality is often the difference between winning and losing.