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Don’t cite the pandemic in your business award entries… find your own monster
A narrative around ‘overcoming the monster’ can make for a compelling plotline when writing business award entries. With organisations across the globe still overcoming the many challenges that the pandemic brought with it, it may be tempting to cite Coronavirus as your ‘monster’ – but to really stand out, you need to find your own.
When it comes to writing business award entries, we talk a lot about narrative and numbers. Focusing on the narrative side of things, we break this down into three different types of plots which we explore here. One of the potential plots you can harness to create a compelling entry is the James Bond-esque ‘overcoming the monster’. This means identifying the big bad monster, explaining what you did to beat it and demonstrating how things have improved as a result.
What’s your monster?
While the pandemic certainly is a monster, you need to look more deeply in terms of the context of your own business to identify a truly engaging and convincing narrative, like events or issues such as:
- An industry recession or major supply issue
- A new competitor entering the market
- A technological or natural disaster e.g. a flood
- An internal crisis e.g. staffing issues, changing board members
- A reputational problem
These are just a few ideas – your monster could be anything that caused your business a significant negative impact that you had to overcome in order to survive and thrive.
Making a monster: working your woes into a compelling award entry
To give you an idea of how you can make your monster work for you, here’s an example of a business award entry we wrote for an AV installation company, relating to a project they were working on at a university.
Due to be concluded ready for the students’ return in September, at 90% complete the installers realised the system wasn’t working. They eventually isolated the problem to a faulty part but it was one that was used multiple times throughout the system – and every single one had failed. On what would usually be a well executed and pretty straightforward project, this quickly became their monster.
After convincing the manufacturer that the problem was definitely with the part, the next monster appeared in the shape of supply issues, as they’d already used the entire European stock of this particular component in this particular project. While the manufacturer promised to produce and deliver new working parts before the project deadline, there was another issue: once installed, a further 10-14 days would be required for testing, refining and commissioning the system – time they categorically did not have.
So, while the manufacturer made the parts, the team got down to some troubleshooting and problem solving. Incredibly, it was actually an apprentice who ended up developing a piece of code that would reduce the testing time down to four hours from the usual two weeks – overcoming the monster just in time, and providing a much more efficient testing solution for future projects too.
Without the challenges they faced, this would have been a good project, not quite an award winning one. But their responsiveness, quick thinking and innovation managed to place them as a finalist in a competitive European business award in their sector
Seeking your pandemic sub-plot
While the pandemic has presented its fair share of challenges to most businesses, you’re not going to stand out if you’re using the same plotline as everyone else – plus the almost inevitable over-saturation of pandemic-based award entries will start to leave judging panels a little fatigued in time.
So how do you stand out?
Even if the pandemic is part of the issue you want to write about, you need to think differently, otherwise you’re just comparing your battle to the exact same monster everyone is fighting. So what’s the monster within? The second, bigger, uglier and more challenging monster that reared up and you managed to overcome? Find your own narrative, your own monster – and don’t forget to use as much data in your award submission as you can to help evidence and support your claims.
Not sure exactly what your monster is? With our in-depth experience in writing compelling business award entries (and sometimes judging them), if you need help identifying your monster, please drop us a line here and we’ll be happy to offer our expert advice.