I recently participated on the jury for an Innovation Award for IT projects in India. Fellow jury members were CIOs from well known banks, a financial institution, an FMCG company and a manufacturing conglomerate. Our task was to select the finalists across seven categories. We could see some really good nominations failing to make it to the final list. Here are some reasons for this. I also see a big opportunity here for journalists and professional case paper writers.
Many nominations failed to make it for the following reasons:
Lack of numbers – When you write that revenue or efficiency or disbursals increased by X% how does the jury quantify that? Can you give us some more numbers? What was it before? Base figure or reference point please! How did the solution influence this increase? What was the approach taken to ensure this increase?
Sketchy responses / missing details – How am I to gauge the impact of the project on employees and customers, when you write a single sentence to describe that?
Poor language, grammar – Take a look at these two sentences:
- The Panda eats, shoots & leaves.
- The Panda eats shoots & leaves.
A single punctuation mark (comma) changes the context of meaning of the sentence. Missing punctuation and poor grammar leaves me baffled and wondering what you meant to say.
Flow, consistency and continuity – When there is no proper structure and flow in the case paper, the jury member has to go back to the original document, hunt for details and then piece it together in his/her mind. Again, a lot is left to assumption.
To mitigate these shortcomings I would suggest the following to any institution that is applying for an award:
- Appoint a professional writer. Brief the writer well. Provide adequate details, reports, figures and graphs to support all statements.
- Review the nomination. When the first draft of the nomination paper is ready, pass it to other people in the organisation for review. Accept feedback and make changes.
- Edit, Revise, proofread. Check for sentence structure, grammar, flow and context.
- Play fair. Do not repeat last year’s nomination and try to pass it off with a few modifications. Does your project fall within the timeline specified by the institution that is presenting the award?
- Avoid multiple nominations. I saw one company applying for nominations across multiple categories. What’s more, it was the same project. If you think that’s going to improve your chances of winning, you are mistaken. The jury is wiser and will know your intentions.