You go to a restaurant. Order everything on the menu, because you don’t know what’s good. Taste everything. And pay only for what you like. Doesn’t sound reasonable, does it?

In the world of public tenders, especially for ambiguous topics, such as design, this appears to be common practice. Often these tenders expect participants to do a lot of the creative work, for free, just to see if the buyer likes it. “The tenderer submits a concept of the creative solution, which includes five creative examples and visualisations”, “the task of the test is to create a new design for an existing voter application” while “the payment for a fee [for the work] is not justified.” These are real quotes in response to payment queries held in the Public Procurement Register during the past few weeks.

Man eating many courses and paying just for coffee

There are multiple reasons why this is wrong

Firstly, it is unethical. You cannot ask someone to do a job for free in the hope that, if you like it, you’ll pay them. In any case, all the other participants will be left with incurred costs and nothing to show for it. A lot of effort is just wasted. In the current crisis situation, where governments have promised to support companies and professionals, who because of the lock-down may not even be able to exercise their profession, asking for free spec work is plain cynical.

Secondly, there are no winners in this game. How can you compare the quality between paid and free work? Often, public procurements tend to be very bureaucratic and full of demands, that are neither negotiable nor very clear. The result is that participants are required to invest even more time to read between the lines and find additional information, to understand the actual needs and goals of the procurement. If this is unpaid work, the motivation to really get it right is limited.

Thirdly, the “let’s see what we like” approach to judging just the visualised drafts combined with the least expensive bid, often finally leads to a poor solution. What looks “wow” often doesn’t work very well and is a recipe for bad results. Designers will invest as little effort as possible to win the tender, not to do the work right. The customer will end up with a mediocre solution that was bought by ticking all the right boxes, but doesn’t compare at all to having done things the right way. At the end, everyone loses. The buyer loses. The tenderer loses. And the tax payer loses. Which is all of us.

However, complaining is easy so we decided to see, if we could fix this problem

During the Global Hack a small team from Brand Manual worked on a solution for this and created Tenderly. Tenderly helps procurers (whether they be public or private sector) to really think through the whole tender. With the support of helpful questions, they describe the actual problem to be solved and the context, in which it exists, the needs and pains of the target group and tangible deliverables they expect.

tender generator user interface

Based on this, Tenderly helps them set up the right requirements, the design team competencies they need to have for the project, relevant references of the team and the previous experience to look for. Tenderly also guides them through setting up the evaluation criteria so that they can have confidence in the results, that the best proposal wins and that the team behind it really can do the job. No more evaluations on price alone.

For the tenderers, Tenderly provides them a detailed design brief that includes relevant background and contextual information, describes the actual problem to be solved, the needs, pains and what they are expected to deliver, in the end. It helps them “tick the boxes” so that they know, whether they even qualify without making them do unnecessary spec work.

Tender generator user interface

By making tenders transparent with the help of clear evaluation criteria, basing them on team competencies and methodology, Tenderly helps both procurers and tenderers get the right job done right. With fair compensation.

The first in a series of articles, of how to see the opportunities for innovation, that the Coronavirus is laying bare.

Never before has human behaviour become so immediately observable. One of the most vivid images is that of empty store shelves and people panic buying toilet paper in countries where there was yet no public guidelines on what to do, and why.

At least in developed economies, there have to date been no reports of failed supply chains for essential goods, so the action of people is based on nothing more than lack of understanding of what is happening, and what to do about it.

Office workers have been forced into the home office. And many quickly discovered, that home office’ing was OK for a few hours or a day. To do it everyday requires a fundamental rethink about where in the home to work, what chair you need, what to do about the kids that are also at home, and how to handle a work-life balance when everything is happening in a very limited space. Let alone that everyone in the household is using the same wi-fi at the same time.

Food delivery is having a booming moment, where it is available. And grocery delivery, since this is the one thing no-one can avoid. We all need to eat and in essence, the supermarket is where people and virus are most likely to meet. Visiting the supermarket, you can observe people trying to keep their distance while at the same time reaching for the same yoghurt that you were looking at. Body contortions ensue.

Government messaging affects behaviour. Where it is unequivocal and timely, it is calming. Where it is ambiguous or full of bullshit, it causes confusion and sows discord between people who believe different opinions. Which then by default triggers a chain reaction that leads to panic buying of 200 rolls of toilet paper. And misplaced social judgement, as the case of the lady calling out a man with a jumbo trolley full of toilet paper, who turned out to be stocking the shelves, not emptying them.

Similarly, taking into account human behaviour before making announcements can lead to unintended consequences. In Belgium the order to close all bars from the next evening at midnight lead to “lockdown” parties where people gathered, rather than dispersed.

In short, where there is human behaviour and adaptation going on, there is also opportunity. Once we get over our common misery, there will be some temporary changes in behaviour, and some will be permanent. Looking for those changes, that can be continued and improved can create new businesses and improve old one’s. Considering the instant and positive impact the reduced mobility of people has had on the environment, it really shows what collective action can do. Could we maintain this positive environmental effect once we all come out of quarantine? That would be positive disruptive innovation indeed.