The first time I heard the reference ‘Go/No Go’ outside of the ‘bid world’ was in the movie Hidden Figures. The film tells the untold story of three brilliant female African-American mathematicians at NASA who played a pivotal role in astronaut John Glenn’s launch into orbit, whilst at the same dealing with racial segregation and gender discrimination at work. It uncovers the important story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history. Alongside other mathematicians and scientists, Johnson (a leading figure in the movie) was under immense pressure to come up with the exact calculations to make the famous “go-no-go” orbital flight trajectory – the minimum computation acceptable for the spacecraft to successfully complete one orbital pass and land safely. In the world of bidding, the Go/ No Go approach has a similar emphasis (thankfully without the life and death scenario) – what factors do I need to calculate to stand a chance of success?
Stop making assumptions
The most practical Go/No Go approach is a scoring matrix with around 10-12 key questions (which I often use for clients and in training workshops). The questions reflect a blend of client relationship, compliance, scope, resourcing, pricing, risk, competition and potential partners rating strengths/weaknesses in these areas. For smaller projects the exercise might feel like a waste of time as often companies hazard a ‘guess’ that there will be an overwhelming number of bidders and/or the client might already have an incumbent. The key phrases here are ‘might’ and ‘guess’ so ask yourself – what are these assumptions based on?
Understand the good and the bad
Using this exercise challenges your own preconceptions and often puts a spotlight on weaknesses or threats you may be deliberately avoiding. When working with partners and sub-consultants, the questions are useful in facilitating the sharing of intelligence, evidence and added value. Unlike the movie where precision is absolutely essential, the Go/No Go score in tendering is not intended to make the decision for you. A low score does not necessarily mean a ‘No Go’ as you might still wish to pursue with your eyes open – perhaps the investment of time is worth the marketing effort? Ultimately, it guides your decision-making by eliminating assumptions and might just help you calculate your competitive edge.
Image: Century Fox.