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Black Hat Facilitation

The purpose of the Black Hat review is to predict competitor strategy and behaviours for a given opportunity. A Black Hat is a group activity that runs in different formats ranging from a half day duration, up to two days. It typically features people with experience of working with, for or against the competitors and may involve elements of role playing the competitors key bid decisions. The benefit of these predictions is that they help:

  • Our bid team to maximise our strengths relative to the competition
  • Our bid team to mitigate our weaknesses relative to the competition
  • Challenge and refine our win themes and customer value proposition
  • Form assumptions that improve the accuracy of the Price to Win

The course is designed by Shipley. It can be delivered by Amplio or Shipley. Amplio are specialists in Price to Win, whilst Shipley have a broad Capture method which is articulated in the Shipley Capture Guide. This course will show how Price to Win fits into the overall Capture process.

However, many bid teams are unsatisfied with the competitive intelligence they get from their Black Hat reviews. In our own research, we asked Price to Win analysts to pick one factor that would have the “quickest improvement on Price to Win”, the overwhelming response was 62% saying “better Competitive Intelligence”, see our benchmarking report for the full analysis. This result echoed the findings of a survey of 178 members of the Association for Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) which rated “better Competitive Intelligence” and the 3rd “quickest way to improve bid performance”

At Amplio, we have a competitive intelligence maturity scale shown in Figure 1 below. In our experience, most companies are either at the maturity where competitive intelligence is 'monitored' or 'structured', but we rarely find companies making truly 'evidence based' decisions.

Figure 1: Competitive Intelligence Maturity Scale

This all begs the question, why are so many bid teams frustrated with the lack of quality competitive intelligence to based decisions on? Given that the Black Hat is the key event, it follows that most bid teams are probably not satisfied with their Black Hat process. In the experience of this author, these are the three most common problems with Black Hat reviews:

  1. “Me too thinking” – When most people consider a key decision that a competitor will make, they will fundamentally think about whether or not they would do it. This is not the same as answering whether the competitor in question will or won’t do something, effectively it’s just answering whether you would do it if you worked for them. What we need are frameworks and evidence that get people away from their current mind-set and into an actual competitors mindset.
  2. SWOT analysis – SWOT analysis is descriptive and not designed to be a predictive tool. Creating a list of things that could happen isn’t especially helpful when we want to know what is likely to happen. Amplio's Black Hat reviews are based around Porter’s Four Corners framework. The Four Corners is a framework designed to predict future strategy.
  3. Leveraging ideas – Typically senior people and extroverts are more vocal in Black Hats. But their contributions aren’t necessarily better than quieter people who just happen to have introvert personalities. Amplio have a section of our Black Hat's dedicated to a 'predictive market' which is a way to bring out the knowledge quieter members have, but don’t often volunteer.
Figure 2: Porter's Four Corners

Porter's Four Corners is a predictive framework that avoids 'me too' thinking

Amplio have designed Black Hat agenda's that counter these common problems with Black Hats. Our agenda is designed around Porter's Four Corners limitations of SWOT analysis. We produce three documents as part of the pre-reading, these are analysis of the competitors, customer and relevant bids. These avoid 'me too' thinking and combined with the Four Corners framework, will get the participants into the mindset of the competitors. We use predictive markets to quantify predictions and ensure every participant contributes.

We facilitate Black Hat's either within our Price to Win as a Service or as stand-alone events. Arrange a consultation to discuss how we can help you win more bids. See our blog where you can download our White Paper giving you more detail about how Price to Win works.

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