Personal development

Bids at Downton Abbey

Lockdown 3.0 has again meant binge watching, and some comfort viewing was required. For this, I’ve returned to the simpler times of Downton Abbey. Clearly the time in isolation is taking its toll, as on this re-watch I’ve started to think about the characters taking their rightful places in a bid team (and as we know procurement was well under way by this point, there could well be a lost episode where the Crawleys bid to supply the village’s meat…) But who is who?

Firstly, the bid manager. Practical, organised, logical, promoting the ‘correct’ way of doing things. And above all, can be commanding when required, keeping everyone on the right track. It can only be Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham – especially with innate Bid Manager traits and values like this:

The wisdom of Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

So, if the great Violet is our bid manager, who is the sponsor? Who makes the decisions and drives everyone to achieve the common goal? Step forward Lady Mary; she’s intelligent, forceful and was born to lead. She is the person with ultimate sign off on the bid, and the organisation’s strategic decision.

While Lady Mary is our sponsor, she will delegate where needed to the appropriate bid lead; the one who knows the client better, is loyal to their needs and ensures the bid submission meets those needs. This is the role of Lord Grantham – he takes responsibility, both internally for his team and externally for his client.

Creating the content takes a hard-working, loyal bid writer. Lady Edith isn’t interested in leading the group, but she is driven and wants to progress; she takes ownership of her career and future development, while avoiding the main conflicts within the bid process.

A bid team often needs to rely on subject matter experts. Those who hold wide knowledge and experience, and bring forward ideas for the bid. Tom Branson, and Matthew and Isobel Crawley are the problem solvers of the bid team – they are logical, driven and results-focused, analysing the correct approach in each case. They are loyal to the team’s success.

The bid support function underpins the team, carrying out even the smallest tasks to ensure it operates effectively and harmoniously. Supporting the team on a day-to-day level are Lady Grantham and Lady Sybil. They feel great responsibility for the bid team – they are kind, always encouraging, and putting the team’s needs before their own. They are the heart of the team.

When it comes to the presentation, you need those bid team members who are outgoing and used to being the centre of attention; the performers. Build the presentation team around Lady Rose and Henry Talbot and you won’t go far wrong! They’ll adapt to any last-minute changes during practice, and will also keep everyone’s spirits up during the most stressful times.

This is your primary bid team, the ‘upstairs’ characters of Downton Abbey – but you could easily build a second bid team with the ‘downstairs’ characters. And after all, how often is an organisation multi-tasking on opportunities? If this happens, you can turn to Carson to be your bid manager, supported by Mrs Hughes as your sponsor and Mr Bates as the bid lead on this second opportunity. Anna is your bid writer, working closely with your SMEs O’Brien and Jimmy (although you may need to keep them under control). Bid support – and most importantly, food – will be provided by Mrs Patmore and Daisy, and you can always bring Ethel back into temporary employ for the presentation alongside Thomas Barrow.   

So, when that second bid comes in, know that you can rely on the ‘secondary’ team. For as Lord Grantham himself said to their Bid Manager “You managed splendidly…please thank the staff for saving the day”.

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