The result: Southbeach helped a team to reach the understanding and consensus that was necessary to create and submit a bid that won them a $2bn contract. The client stated that the solution proposed represented 65% of the reason they awarded the contract to the supplier.
In response to an extensive RFP (Request for Proposal) the bid team of twenty people had worked relentlessly for several weeks, answering hundreds of detailed questions issued by the client. As the final response date for the RFP drew near, it became obvious to the bid manager that key members of the team disagreed significantly over how important different aspects would be for winning the bid. This made the integration of the proposal materials and the crafting of an executive summary virtually impossible. This was exasperated by the knowledge that the proposal would be subject to review by many different representatives in different areas of the client's business. It was not clear how a final decision could be made, nor who the key decision makers should be.
A way had to be found to align the team around the explicit and implicit requirements of the client organization. In this carefully regulated contractual negotiation there was little opportunity to speak openly and directly with the various client executives involved.
The supplier had worked with the client in the past, during which time many different supplier-customer relationships had been established at both the personal and business unit level. The challenge was: which of these contacts were the ones with decision making authority for the new contract? At the same time some members of the client organization were expressing disappointments with the supplier's services. The supplier knew they had to 'up' their game, and demonstrate a new level of understanding of the client's overall requirements, in depth. This could never happen if the bid team continued to disagree about the core themes to present in the executive summary, and how to structure the proposal response around these.
To understand different perspectives and identify some shared ground Southbeach methods were used. Each member of the bid team was interviewed by a consultant, either individually or in smaller, area-specific teams. Each session typically lasted about 90 minutes. The multitude of individual perspectives was captured using Southbeach visual models. In a facilitated session the entire bid team got together to share their different perspectives. Through the visualization they were able to more clearly see, and therefore understand, each other's viewpoint. Together they then worked to develop a single model, capturing everyone's viewpoint, a model that everyone could sign up to. In the process it became clear that in many cases people had been talking about the same things - just using different words or different ways of describing it. In other cases, complementary viewpoints added to the larger picture.
The resulting model was then used to identify potential focus areas for the customer; the methodology generated directions for improvements. This output was scrutinized, and a picture started to emerge. It turned out that many issues in the relationship were caused by a lack of information sharing between the client and the supplier. So it was suggested to develop of a repository for such knowledge. When the CTO on the project heard about this he was able to immediately recommend an off-the-shelf 'best in class' product that would be able to be used as the basis for such a repository. This was included in the supplier's proposal as a central component of the solution, around which other elements were positioned, and it became a major 'win' theme. The fact that it was backed by the collateral from the vendor of the repository solution, and the testimonials of other clients using the same solution, added credibility to the supplier's proposal.
During these workshops, another benefit of Southbeach emerged. By projecting Southhbeach models on a large screen, the workshop attendees had a 'shared space' in which to work. Each began to focus on improving the model on display, rather than talking in circles around the issues. The model became the focus of attention and development. Since Southbeach semantics allows for the inclusion of different perspectives and needs and roles, everyone was able to add their 'knowledge' to the model without disrupting the model development. There was rarely any need to 're-draw' the model as new information came to light.