March 20th, 2020

Do you know what I love? Tenders. Absolutely bloody love 'em.

Maybe it's the mind-boggling thrill of deciphering the documentation, presumably written in some kind of code to protect my personal information from hackers. It's amazingly clever how they make it sound like complete nonsense.

No wait. It's the websites I love best. I can literally waste days navigating my way around these things that would win awards for usability. Well, probably get highly commended. In 1995.

Or maybe it's the fact tenders give me the chance to re-write my Health and Safety Policy on an almost weekly basis. Absolute heaven!

After months of work that I would have otherwise wasted on billable projects, I've instead fine-tuned my Diversity and Equality Policy so carefully that it's regularly described as the best ever seen.

Good news is that as long as I invent perpetual motion to make fossil fuels globally obsolete by the end of the week, I think I can claw my way back.

I must admit though, my Environmental Policy is one of the worst. Nil pwa, I'm afraid. It turns out that everyone biking to work and recycling our paper in the bins outside Sainsbury's just doesn't cut it.

Good news is that as long as I invent perpetual motion to make fossil fuels globally obsolete by the end of the week, I think I can claw my way back.

On very rare occasions, I'm asked to provide examples of our agency's work and describe in detail what we do. Thankfully this hardly ever happens, because it takes valuable time away from ensuring my supply chain is compliant with B435 Twaddle Standards.

And I’m proud to announce that all my hard work has paid off. We're now confirmed as official suppliers to the 25 UN organisations, the NHS and numerous public bodies around the UK. No work has ever materialised, but hey, acceptance is its own reward, right? They like us!

The rest of my team think I'm nuts. Lawrence, they say, this can't go on. They tell me that these tender processes haven't been designed with SMEs in mind, instead creating a painful and protracted, one-size-fits-all nightmare.

They think, bless them, that committing 30 hours just to find out I've been shortlisted, then the same again to get to stage 2, and again for the grande finale, is a morale-sapping, exhausting drain on my time.

They mistakenly think SMEs are designed for dynamic, fast-moving environments that can do incredible things if they're able to keep agile. We're used to pushing boundaries, they say, but these tenders are crushing us.

Personally, I don't know what's got into them. No tender I've seen is asking about pushing boundaries. Meeting minimum requirements, maybe. But boundaries must stay exactly where they are.

Yet listening to my team has made me realise where I'm going wrong – I'm hiring people who actually want to deliver enormous benefits to clients. They want opportunities to break free from the constraints of the tender and make a real impact. Crazy.

So I’ve decided: I'm going to have to look at my Recruitment Policy again. I'm pretty sure I can stamp all that enthusiasm out in time for the next tender.