RFP stands for Request for Proposal, but it may as well stand for Recipe for Plain. When big companies or government organizations send out RFPs they mean well, of course. They say “we want your best thinking on this” or “give us an innovative solution”. The problem is that the very nature of the RFP makes it nearly impossible to share innovative ideas. With an RFP you end up locked into a homogenous, one size fits all, box. Everybody is given the same lines to color within, so it’s no surprise that the result is a bunch of very similar thoughts. We are all trying to meet requirements to please the client and it’s hard to squeeze in the real idea.
This is my preferred model. The company says:
1. Here’s our problem.
2. Here are the important constraints.
3. Now tell us why your solution is the best, to innovative, most creative one and why your team is the one we should pick.
An even better model for fostering creativity is leaving behind the strictures and allowing business to offer genuine, innovative ideas. This is not to say that there aren’t RFPs that could not be properly structured to allow a respondent to structure their thinking effectively, but today those are few and far between.
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