Complacency can deal the killer blow to opportunity. Whether it’s a General Election or a business pitch, assuming that you can’t possibly lose is the surest way to make sure you don’t win.
When you think you can’t lose you forget the basics
You forget that you have competitors, or perhaps consider them unworthy of your attention. They, on the other hand, will do everything they can to close the gap and exploit their own strengths.
You base your actions on flawed assumptions that you don’t bother to test. You don’t consider getting a wider group of stakeholders engaged in the decision-making process. You forget about making the most of your own strengths and exploiting these to the full, using all means of communication to influence stakeholders.
You do this because you are going to win anyway. No other result is conceivable.
You misread the mood and the issues
You don’t take the time to think through what really matters to the decision makers. You assume that the issue at the front of your mind is at the front of theirs. You may have your own personal ‘Brexit’ issue but the people making the decision may be focused on other, more basic, things. Never assume that you know the issues that count most in the decision; always research and always validate.
And, by the way, “trust me, I’m the only one who can deliver a solution,” is not an engaging proposition in business or politics.
You fail to engage in dialogue and trot out stock phrases and cliches instead of communicating
Robotically trotting out cliches, slogans or standardised marketing messages is not communication. When you demonstrate consistently that you’re not listening, people eventually get the message: you’re not listening.
If your competition is ready to fully engage (whether that’s a TV debate, a bidder’s meeting or competitive dialogue) they show that they value and respect the process and the audience. They don’t take their support for granted. By engaging fully, your competition can change the way they are perceived and shape how the decision is made.
Contrast a strategy of ‘you can’t possibly trust any of those to deliver so it has to be us’ with upbeat communications pointing out how things could be better than they are.
You contradict yourself because you didn’t think things through
You get challenged on a key part of your proposal or manifesto and have to do a rapid U turn - simply because you didn’t question how it would be received. How does this make you look? We are back again to involving a more diverse group of people in developing, testing and presenting the message.
Another hint: pretending that you haven’t changed your mind and expecting people to ignore the evidence of their own eyes and ears shows contempt for your audience. This isn’t the way to win hearts and minds.
Can you learn from your mistakes?
“I got you into this mess and I’ll get you out of it” shows that you haven’t learned anything at all. More communication, more consultation and acceptance of a broader more “rounded” approach is the way out of the hole - not just digging faster.
The sting in the tail
The bids (or elections) that you think you can’t possibly lose are usually the ones that you can’t afford to lose. That’s how damaging complacency can be. If you want an outside perspective to tell you honestly whether your confidence is misplaced, I’m here to help (businesses only please, not political parties).
Do you have a 'must win' bid coming up? Want to be certain your confidence isn't misplaced? GET IN TOUCH
Intro image attribution: CC Policy Exchange