The simplest of ideas can take too long to figure out
After enduring stress and frustration managing teams in writing government grant proposals, I had a sudden insight about the process.
Separate technical content from grammatical issues
In the initial stages of the proposal, avoid having team members provide written content in sentence and paragraph form.
Instead, have them provide content in outline and bullet format, and then add the content to a storyboard. After creating the storyboard, the team can easily arrange and modify the storyboard until there is team consensus.
Achieving team consensus still requires several iterations and there will be some frustration among team members. However, it is far easier to review and edit a storyboard than multiple paragraphs of technical writing.
Once the storyboard receives team consensus, sections of the storyboard content can be converted into full sentences and paragraphs.
The advantages of using a storyboard are numerous:
- It is faster to review bullet points than full sentences and paragraphs
- Rearranging bullet points is easier than rearranging sentences and paragraphs, making it more effective to create a “flowing” proposal
- It creates a more robust technical proposal, since reviewers focus on technical content instead of debating grammar
- It eliminates grammatical issues, avoiding the touchy subject of critiquing individuals’ grammar and upsetting egos
- By avoiding having one individual assume responsibility for completing the proposal, it allows for a more cohesive team proposal
- Reviews and edits can be done as a group, avoiding conflicting edits done by multiple people
Have you had similar experiences working with teams to create proposals? If you have, I would love to learn more about your experiences, please leave a comment.