In Business as in Sport!
It was a Sunday of tiebreaks, heartbreaks and pulsating drama in England yesterday with two tear-jerkers carrying all the trappings of edge-of-the-seat operatic thrillers that reached a crescendo almost simultaneously.
Such heart-pounding actions are not uncommon in the world of business, except that they are not played out in the open for connected moments of euphoria, mania and angst. Bid war-rooms go through it all with multi-pronged pursuit strategies taking centrestage.
Now back to yesterday’s moment in history. First, the most-Grand Slam-bejewelled Roger Federer was at the losing end after frittering away two championship points against Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon even as New Zealand tied twice without losing but still England took home the Cricket World Cup. Not to take credit away from the winners, but I am still left with the inevitable thought that those who finished second deserved the top honours.
If Wimbledon threw up the longest-ever final, Lords witnessed the world’s first Super Over – one each for the two in the Cup chase. It still did not produce a loser, with the team that hit the greatest number of boundaries emerging as the winner. It is rule-based judgment, so no arguments against it.
Djokovic, the world’s number 1 tennis player, clinched all his three winning sets through tiebreaks whereas Federer, considered an all-time great, won the two sets the regular way and quite convincingly. Federer played superior tennis for most part of the match, but Djokovic came out trumps where it mattered.
Flippant questions may arise such as: “If tiebreaks, super overs and penalty shootouts (in football) are clinchers why not have just them, tossing out the regular formats?”. No scrutiny is needed to dismiss any such frenzy as just emotional drivel!
We have seen it in business, too, with deals having been decided upon at the BAFO (Best and Final Offer) stage. Bidders go through multiple phases of evaluation at their cost, with some even lasting more than two years.
To break the impasse between two or more vendors, businesses invite them to make their BAFO submissions to simplify their task of contract award. That does not mean the earlier complex bidding phase was a futile exercise.
It is a phase that has served its purpose – resulting in a shortlist of vendors with the ability to meet the technology requirements of RFP issuers. If the proposed solutions and the value they bring forth failed to find resonance with prospects, they will not be present at the negotiating table.
Effectively, the pre-BAFO stage is the most crucial part of bid evaluation. That is an arduous period when pursuit teams have to wade through reams of RFP documentation, evolve bid strategies and win themes for execution, mitigate risks to protect business interests and prepare compelling proposals to address prospects’ project drivers for potentially winnable submissions.
Every stage (every round, in essence) in any sphere of activity has been architected to serve a purpose full of engagement and substance – that of picking a deserving winner! We may or may not like the direction they take, but they are certain to have been battles well fought in a true competitive spirit!
Back to Sunday’s epic battles and dramatic (to some, traumatic) results, the tennis and cricket winners may themselves not be satisfied with the outcomes in their favour. Ultimately, it is only the titles that will count, not how they won them even if history may record the run-up to the denouement!
G Joslin Vethakumar