The internal proposal is a document--at least two pages long--written by you
as a member of an organization to a superior in the same organization. In it
you propose a solution to a problem you perceive in the workings of the organization.
Because this is an internal communication, it should be written in the form of
a memo; read carefully the model internal proposal in the Kolin
text. Though dated, it is a very strong example.
Obviously, in order to complete this assignment, most class members will be
engaging in some play acting; most writers will not actually submit their
proposals to their superiors. Some members are writing about problems in past
positions. But write the proposals
in the present tense as if you are going to submit them and go ahead and submit
them if you have the appropriate relationship with your superior. Explain that
you did the work as an assignment in an English class but you thought that
he/she might like to see your ideas anyway. You might impress someone and
actually get something accomplished.
Here is an overview of the proposal in terms of SCAMP:
- Style: Your word
choice and sentence structure ought to be determined by the kind of person
you are writing to, the kind of relationship you have with that person,
your subject matter, and the kind of organization in which you are
involved. If you have a distant, professional relationship with your boss,
the organization is fairly well buttoned up, and the subject is relatively
important, then, of course, your tone needs to be formal, assertive, and
serious. But not all professional relationships demand formal writing.
Some class members will appropriately address their readers in a
conversational style, using first-person, contractions, some slang,
informal words, and so on. The example in the book, on the other hand, is
definitely formal. Keep in mind that the purpose of a proposal is partly
persuasive, so do not undermine your persuasive purpose by being
inappropriately informal, casual, or flip. And no one should be incorrect.
- Chunking: The parts of
your proposal are determined by the logic behind any proposal and by your
specific subject. Not all proposals need all the following parts, and heads
for these parts do not have to echo the wording here. But these are some
of the most common parts in proposals:
- Introduction: refer to
the context, establish good will, state your purpose, and give an
overview of the memo. This section does not need a head. The memo in the Kolin text supplies a head for the introduction, but
- Description of the
problem: establish in writing the exact nature of the problem you are
writing about. Use multiple examples, statistics, and description. Your audience
may know most of what you present in this section, but do a thorough job
describing the problem because it's a good idea to get the facts down on
paper. If nothing is done by your boss about the problem this time, at
least you leave a paper trail showing that you recognized the problem and
tried to clear it up. If your
superior is not aware of the problem, this is the section in which to
convince him/her that a problem exists and that it’s significant. Show that the problem makes it
hard for the organization to accomplish its mission.
- Causes of the problem:
establish what is bringing the problem into existence. It is the cause of
the problem that your proposal should eliminate. For example, if the
problem is poor attendance at organizational meetings, then you might
establish the cause of the problem as ineffective communication by
showing that email doesn't reach enough people who might attend.
- Effects/Future of the
problem: describe what will happen if the problem is not solved. Again, show how the problem
threatens the organization’s mission.
solutions: if there is not just one obvious solution to the problem, then
list and briefly discuss all the possible solutions and their benefits or
lack of benefits, leaving the one you favor for last.
- Solution/Proposal: detail
exactly how the solution you think is best will eliminate the causes of
the problem. How and why will the problematical situation change when
your proposal goes into effect?
Make sure that your solution is concrete, tangible, and
specific. Avoid proposing
vague solutions like holding a meeting and just talking to
employees. A meeting is fine,
but it needs to be accompanied by a concrete document to be distributed
to employees, for example.
Draft a version of such a document and attach it to the proposal. If you are proposing that a
document be created—a manual, checklist, statement of policies,
list of instructions, etc.—then draft the document and attach it or
(in the case of a long document like a manual) outline the contents.
- Feasibility: argue
that the proposal really can be implemented. This argument might involve
discussing a number of different topics:
consultants, and salespeople, for example
- Conclusion: a proposal
writer normally offers to talk further about the proposal with the
audience, to answer questions, write any follow-ups necessary, etc. Also,
the writer usually volunteers to do much or all of the work involved in
the proposal. Just keep the conclusion brief and polite.
- Audience: Keep in mind
that your audience, your superior, has the power to accept and implement
your proposal or not. So you must try to sound logical, concerned,
realistic, and committed. Your audience will do nothing about a problem
he/she does not believe exists. He/she will not implement a plan that
costs too much. He/she will not implement anything that might have
outweighing disadvantages, and so on. Your proposal should relate to
whatever it is that your audience values most--customer service,
efficiency, professionalism, profit, etc. Explain how your proposal will
enable the organization to achieve what the audience values.
- Message: The message
of a proposal is neatly logical: a serious problem exists; it is caused by
X; if we do P, the cause of the problem will be eliminated; it is feasible
(realistic, possible) to do P.
Let’s do P.
- Purpose: A proposal
always has a two-fold purpose: to inform and persuade. The proposal must
inform the audience of the existence of a problem but also persuade the
audience that it is serious enough to do something about. Then the
proposal must persuade the audience that a specific action should be taken
that will lessen or eliminate the problem. Persuasiveness is achieved by
including details, examples, statistics, and so on; by thoroughly
completing all the necessary parts of the case for a proposal; and by
connecting your proposal to the values of the audience.