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Bidding best practices - one size doesn't fit all...

Updated: 6 days ago


Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

I've just finished reading Matthew Syed’s excellent ‘Rebel Ideas’ – a book about the power of diverse thinking. It’s a fascinating and insightful book that also happens to be a good read.


One chapter really resonated as it seemed to challenge the concept that best practices will work for everyone. It also appealed to my inner aircraft geek!


According to the book, in the late 1940s/early 1950s the US Air Force was experiencing frequent incidents – there were 172 reported in February 1950 alone. Investigation discounted mechanical or pilot failings. Enter Lt Gibert S. Daniels who hypothesised that the problem was with the design of the cockpit itself.


Cockpit design had been standardised in 1926 after tabulating the dimensions of hundreds of pilots. This determined the height of the seat, distance to the pedals and stick, height of the canopy, and the shape of helmets amongst other things.


Daniels reckoned that the notion of an average pilot was defective. To test this, he led a project to measure 4,063 pilots on 140 dimensions. From the group, not a single pilot was within the average range: turns out there’s no such thing as an average pilot. The standardised cockpit was the root cause of all the incidents. Instead of designing a standard cockpit for a non-existent average pilot, they overcame the incidents by designing the cockpit to adapt to the diversity of individuals.


It’s this concept that led me to draw parallels with bidding practices. Are they designed for an average organisation that doesn’t exist? This is why I believe we must use the power of diversity to help us adapt, innovate, and evolve to be the best we can be at bidding to gain an edge over the competition.


The book quotes Neil Lawrence, head of machine learning at Amazon: ‘When an average is being used well, it’s harnessing the insight from multiple people. When it’s used badly, it’s imposing a solution for multiple people’.


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