What If…?

What if what you think is true…isn’t?

What if (some of)the things you’ve been taught aren’t, in fact, true?

What if certain “industry standards,” “best practices,” and “common knowledge” turn out to be less useful or realistic than you’ve been led to believe?

No, we’re talking about “fake news” or “alternative facts.” We’re talking about things we’ve been taught or trained on and take for granted. What if, on closer examination, some of those things don’t really hold water?

Most proposal professionals are steeped in such “industry standard” theories and practices. Most prominent among these standards and practices are those contained in the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) Body of Knowledge and those taught in Shipley Associates’ workshops. And, of course, there is a large body of “common knowledge” that is part of “the sea we swim in” as proposal professionals.

These standards and practices comprise a set of things we think we “know” about how to do our jobs. In general, they serve us well–providing a solid foundation and framework for our profession.

And yet: Over time, any idea, any theory, any process, any methodology, any guidance can evolve from “standard” to something more like dogma. We stop thinking about it, testing it, improving it. We simply accept it as “true.” Instead of constantly challenging our assumptions, we fall back into comfortable patterns–thinking and acting the way we’ve become accustomed to thinking and acting.

Dogma may be appropriate in the context of religion, but it can be dangerous in the work world. It can keep us stuck–and that’s rarely good for us as individuals, let alone the organizations we support. If we want to keep learning, growing, and getting better at what we do, we must be willing to acknowledge what we have been taking for granted and think hard about whether it still serves us (or ever really did, for that matter).

So, which “truths” are you willing to question? Which assumptions are you willing to re-examine? Which dogmas and orthodoxies are you willing to challenge? And which “heresies” are you willing to consider in their place?

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