Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I spent last night at the office hunched over a keyboard until nearly midnight, expending the last of my middle-aged vitality to help write a draft for my company's current proposal effort. The reason that I was working so late is that salesmanship does not come naturally to me; and exhaustion helps me surmount my personal threshold of disgust in generating proposal prose, a stylized form of expression that is equal parts bombast and giddy optimism.

Below are some of the zircons that I polished last night. (Specifics have been changed to prevent industrial spies in my vast blog readership from gaining illicit advantage.)

To satisfy certain niceties of proposal protocol, my thesis sentence had to include all of the items on a contract list. This ungainly thesis sentence, a sausage-string of prepositional phrases set in blue italics, sets the tone for my entire section.

"The Acme Handbag designing, cutting, and stitching approach uses incremental scheduling with a sew-as-you-go methodology to manage risk by enabling our sweatshop to identify production issues early and adapt to retailer delivery obligations."

After this awkward beginning, the prose settles down into conventional hype.

"Acme's unequaled competence in handbag manufacturing, demonstrated by successful past performance in ..."

"Acme employs a rigorous process-based handbag design approach, used successfully on our Big Mama series, to meet product line requirements on cost and on schedule."

"As shown in Figure xx-2, the Acme handbag process begins with the designer providing sketches, fabric and clasps to the sweatshop ladies and culminates with the warehouse boy hauling a quality-inspected handbag shipment to Betty's Fashion Barn."

When I couldn't think of any compelling arguments, I would punch up the prose with hyphenated jargon. The prose would resemble a bad translation from the German.

"This OSHA-compliant earth-friendly sweatshop assembly-line architecture minimizes finger-loss incidents and enables high-adaptability reconfiguration of sewing resources."

What truly dismays me is how closely these silly examples conform to my actual proposal sentences.