Pre-Red Team management

This is part of a series explains how to manage large narratives. Our last post focussed on preparing proposal writers for success. Today’s entry includes tools and processes for managing the period from kickoff to Red Team review.

Red Team review planning

NOTE: The points below assume narratives total 200 pages or less, and the response window is 45-60 days. Adjust for larger or smaller responses and submission times. For much larger narratives, consider scheduling multiple Red Teams or plan a multi-day review.

  • Time the review for about halfway through the response window
  • Issue invitations early for an all-day, in-person session
  • Invite the proposal manager, capture manager and section leads
  • Set a content submission deadline 4-6 days ahead of the review
  • Specify that submitted narratives be at least 70 percent complete

Pink Team review

If the schedule permits and especially if requirements are complex, consider scheduling a bullet point or Pink Team review between kickoff and Red Team. To prepare, ask writers to analyse their sections and provide their analyses and proposed responses in point form. For all but very large responses, conduct review sessions virtually and/or one-on-one. Focus on ensuring writers are clear on structure and compliance before they begin drafting.

Triaging submitted content

Analyse pre-Red Team submissions when received and return or escalate sections that are not 70 percent or more complete and/or that are non-compliant. Include notes explaining your decision. Fast turnaround increases the chances of getting acceptable content back in time for Red Team.

Structural editing

Due to time constraints, and because reviewers’ input often results in wholesale changes, do not invest in copyediting content at this stage. Focus annotations on recommended cuts to irrelevant or non-responsive content and missing information and opportunities to improve compliance, logical flow, convert plain text to tables, graphics, mini-case studies etc., and to add strategic messaging.

Circulating documents for Red Team

Assemble annotated narratives into a Word or PDF document and distribute to all reviewers at least two days before the review. In your distribution email, set the expectation that reviewers will have read the narratives before the review session.


These investments in supporting writers and making clear and thoughtful annotations enable more successful Red Team reviews and create early momentum towards a complete, compliant and strategic response.

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