Ecological Origination: Pitch to Lose

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Ecological Origination: Pitch to Lose

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James Woodeson

Coach, Supervisor & Programmes

When we win our most exciting work, it’s because we’ve tried our best to lose it.

We were caught in a frustrating pattern of trying to get our proposal “right”. It was quite a natural reaction to wanting to win an organisationally transformative piece of work with a prospective, global client. Highlighting our desire to win and our fear of missing out.

Everything changed with a powerful question. “Why don’t we pitch to lose?”

What this meant for us was to liberate ourselves from any perceived limitations. To reflect deeply on what we felt would truly make a difference, rather than what would necessarily fit within any conventional norm.

We needed to start with the clients situation in order to unlock our and their potential, rather than starting with our desire to win work. We call this Ecological Origination.

As a result of this, when we arrived for our virtual pitch, in front of at least six people we had never met, we decided to create an experience where the client could feel our approach, rather than telling them our approach. They needed to feel us and us them.

The result was turning the traditional pitch on its head. What a feeling! On the edge (and sometimes over) of comfort and spontaneously emerging in response to the energy created in the moment.

The most interesting element of our proposal was that we had determined that the best solution was to describe how we had realised we didn’t have one. Yet. We needed to get closer to the people within the organisation. To feel the situation and to enquire into what was going on from various different perspectives. Only then could we get into solutions.

We had never worked with this particular multinational before. We recognised that even if we weren’t successful with our pitch, we could make an impresssion and hope to be thought of for future work.

Amongst the feedback we received, one of the most warming comments was quite simply, “You really listened to us. We felt cared for.”

We pitched to lose. The result was a successful outcome and the initiation of a global leadership development program for 140 leaders.

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