Friday, April 17, 2009

Intro to Mismanagement 101

Our proposal center manager is the most incompetent manager I’ve ever known. And that is saying something—I’ve been working since 1966!

We are in the final stages of completing a proposal. The Gold Team (i.e., final) review has been completed, and I checked to see if the desktop publishing specialist had properly made their edits. What I saw in my review is evidence of what could be a case study in how not to put together a proposal.

Here are some key steps (there are many more) the proposal center manager should have taken to ensure an infinitely better product than the one we are about to submit.

1. Hold a kickoff meeting with all writers and reviewers to describe in detail the writing and review processes.

2. Distribute and review the proposal style guide.

3. Bring about a consensus on which reviewer is the final arbiter on content changes.

4. Meet with reviewers to capture how each of their changes could impact the material reviewed by others.

5. Meet with desktop publishing specialists and graphic designers to define style, and to agree on consistency guidelines.

6. Properly screen the temp editors.

7. Provide me (the lone staff editor) the opportunity to review our proposal style with the temp editors.

8. Ensure there is a mechanism in place to track changes that would be the target of global searches/replaces just prior to production.

The above touch on just a portion of what needs to be done on a writing project that involves multiple writers and reviewers. This is fairly obvious to those who have edited in just such an environment.

The proposal center manager, however, has chosen not to manage—by any stretch of the imagination—any key area of our operations. Rather, she busies herself by cleaning the whiteboards in our conference rooms, hassling her direct reports, and holding worthless weekly staff meetings during which she utters platitudes such as, “We’re all a team here,” “We’re all adults here,” “Remember to do your timesheet daily,” and “Do you want to have a pot luck lunch?”

She is universally regarded as a joke. Yet she survives. None of us can figure out how.