RFP: It Should Stand for 'Request for Partnership'
"Selecting highly specialized and talented professionals to perform exceptional work is not what the RFP process was created for."
A Request for Proposal is an all-too-common mechanism for purchasing goods and services. When an organization is in need of something — from paperclips to highly-skilled problem-solving consultation — they issue an RFP and receive bids. RFPs almost always require submitting a sealed bid that includes cost estimates, a written summary of the bidder's qualifications and usually some examples or references. This process works well for buying commodity items like washers or even bigger items like transformers, where the requirements are not the least bit subjective. The product either meets the need and works or it doesn't. It's that simple. The RFP process, however, is the worst possible method for choosing services that are supposed to solve problems, think creatively and perform at a high level of innovation.
By definition, an RFP defines the scope of the services being purchased and by getting a price proposal puts a ceiling on outside-the-box thinking. Problem solvers should not be constrained.