Week 153 – A failed proposal

A lesson learned from a failed proposal and a discussion about robot ethics

A Lesson Learned

I have to be honest. When we got a request for proposal briefing for a social media strategy a couple of weeks ago, we felt pretty flattered that the whole thing was based on our social media strategy framework.

So with a lot of confidence we prepared our proposal, send it off … and didn’t get the job. Once more we got beaten by the bigger agency, which offered the strategy for a steal, probably counting on making their revenue with the execution1. The client might not even mind that the agency will sell them as strategy whatever their execution is good at.

Nevertheless, we still think that it’s important to think about the strategy independently to avoid the hammer-nail-problem2. But there’s only so much that you can communicate in a proposal document. So where we ultimately failed on this one is by not building a relationship before actually sending the proposal. We have observed again and again that people “get us” when we sit down with them and have a conversation about what we do and how we could help them.

What we take away from this is that we always need to reach out personally and rather take the extra trip to talk person to person, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, than to just send a document. It’s the nature of our business that it looks kinda hard to comprehend on paper. Alas, more coffee, less Keynote.

A Conversation on Robot Ethics

I was invited to join an edition of the Digital Salon, a format by the HIIG here in Berlin, to talk about robot ethics and the future of work. Not really an expert on robots, it was a great opportunity to dive into Yet Another Interesting Topic™. The video of the discussion is here (in German) and a summary of my research on the topic is here (in German, too).


  1. It also played a big role for them that the cheaper agency was also a local agency. But that’s not really something we can do anything about. 

  2. If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.