Walking in the Government's Shoes: As an Evaluator for Oral Presentations
A senior Government leader once said, “Doing it differently and thinking from a different perspective is the only way we’re going to make progress.” I couldn’t agree more with this individual, who has a ton of experience in acquisition and problem solving—and that is why we are learning by doing in Peer Groups at Arc Aspicio.
We recently had the opportunity to do something from a unique perspective—the Government’s perspective rather than ours (a consulting firm). We conducted a ‘mock’ competition where the primary proposals were Oral Presentations focused on a border security challenge. This activity was the culmination of learning in our Peer Groups and put the learning ‘into practice.’ Four teams of five people each ‘competed’ with an oral presentation to a highly experienced ‘evaluation panel’ of former Government executives—all with law enforcement and border security experience.
One major way that we invest in professional development is through what we call Peer Groups. Peer Groups are small groups of consultants at similar levels (but with diverse and dissimilar experience) who come together for a period of about seven months to meet monthly for a wide variety of training, coaching, and hands-on practice sessions. From practice client meetings to ‘pitch’ an idea to senior Government executives to topics on delegation and leadership, employees have the opportunity to learn new skills and practice them together, in a safe environment.
So… back to the competition. What happened and what did we collectively learn?
Participants (our consultants) learned:
It’s very hard to develop a proposal that is compelling, integrated, and demonstrates the full capabilities of our firm
It’s harder to compellingly present the solution – sharing our personal experiences and describing the company capabilities in the best way
Great execution as a team requires attention to detail, planning, and practice
As a company, we learned:
Helping each other meet deadlines, developing compelling content, and supporting each other through both failure and success makes for a great team
Teaching our employees how to be confident in what they know and what they personally and uniquely bring to a team or a problem is really hard and very important
We have to make it easier for the Government to understand our proposals and learn what it is like to work with us – collaborative, intense, and fun
#designthinking doesn’t explain itself. We have to be clear about how we involve the Government using innovation processes that help us achieve #MissionResults
We’ve seen the Government do similar hands-on activities at the Defense Acquisition University, where they bring in diverse teams to use human-centered design to solve problems of significant complexity (e.g., missile defense). They allowed us to share tools that we repeatedly use to solve problems with our homeland security clients.
With our senior leaders—some who are former executives—acting as ‘evaluators,’ we enabled learning not only in our Peer Groups but also in our senior leaders as well. By walking in the shoes of a Government evaluator, we learned how to make our solutions more innovative, clear, and compelling. And, we had fun learning together in the process.
About Arc Aspicio
Arc Aspicio is a management, strategy, and technology consulting firm that takes a mission-oriented approach to complex client challenges. Focused on innovation, Arc Aspicio provides services in strategy, design, human capital, operations, analytics and visualization, technology, and information sharing. The company is known for a strong, collaborative culture that values gratitude, provides leadership opportunities, and explores the future. Our teams use a human-centered approach to working with clients and are flexible and responsive within dynamic Government client environments that often have new priorities and evolving missions. We thrive on these situations and promote continuous improvement and new ideas. And, #welovedogs! Follow us on Twitter @arcaspicio or learn more at www.arcaspicio.com.