JK Waldie & Associates


Years ago when I worked at KBR, I learned a great technique to manage my proposals: the “Dummy Book.” We used the Dummy Book method as we had no space for a war room. (A war room is where a copy of the proposal is fastened to the wall of the room.) I quickly realized that it was a great way to manage my time as well as the content.


 What is a Dummy Book? The Dummy Book is a living copy of your document that shows exactly where you are in developing the proposal. It was first used by the publishing industry to create a mock copy of a published manuscript.

I set up my Dummy Book with copies of my storyboards (which also serve as writing drafts for my SMEs), using a recycled binder and surplus dividers. As sections are developed and updated, I print out the revised pages (or sections) and replace them in the book. I also insert the proof cover and dividers, once they are developed.

 The Book gives me a visual reminder of what needs to be done in each section. Every morning, I review the Book to see where I am and create my action list and schedule. As I flip through the book, I’ll often catch formatting errors or mistakes, which I note.

 As work progresses, I flag the pages that I have updates for or insert a copy of the email to remind me that I have that content. Depending on the schedule, how complex the proposal is, etc., I will either update as changes are made or all incorporated changes at the end of the day. If I am working with a team, I will have each team member print and replace pages as they update them.

 The book also gives my team a clear idea of the state of the proposal. This is particularly useful if you have a project manager who is hands-on or visual! I use it as the lead book during each review and it serves as the master during printing and book checks.

 Even when working virtually, I will create a hard-copy Dummy Book as it provides several advantages:

  • Because I am visual, it helps me focus quickly on what needs to be done.
  • I am able to verify the size of binders or binding spines needed for production.
  • If the proposal is submitted electronic, I am able to confirm it prints correctly for clients that will print copies.
  • If I encounter computer problems or am unable to access the virtual proposal center, I still have a reference to lead the discussion.
  • As mentioned before, I use it as the master for printed production.

 So give it a try! You won’t be a dummy for using the Dummy Book!