A Judge's Reflections ...

5 September 2008

LORES_Steve_Bagshaw_blog By Steve Bagshaw

Well done to all the winners at last night’s CIPS/SM awards and particularly to Homeserve for scooping the overall prize. It was a good bash but for shortlisted candidates who didn’t win their category - and particularly for those organisations with multiple entries - last night understandably brought disappointment. And while the judging panel cannot give feedback to individual entrants, I thought it may be useful to share some of my personal views (as a judge) on what separates a category winner from other shortlisted entrants.

First thing often is “not much”. Each of the 10 judges awards marks out of 50 to shortlisted entries. And very often two or three entries are within 10 marks. The marks alone don’t determine the winners, but provide a starting point for the judging panel.

Secondly, a common shortcoming relates to timing. However good an entry may be, it is difficult to favour one based on planned achievements over an entry based on a project which has been completed or one for which there are demonstrable benefits.

But this means re-submitting entries can really pay off. In fact when E.ON was the overall winner in 2007, they had submitted the same project a year earlier and did not win the category.

Thirdly, clarity. The other judges are probably bored of my saying this at the judging meetings, but the clearer an entry is, the more closely it can be assessed. If the judges are unsure about an entry’s aims, achievements or methods it will lose out against an entry which lays out succinctly what has been achieved, how when and why. And the last point is crucial, why was there a need to do what you have done. It may sounds obvious, but unless it is described in the entry the judges don’t know the starting point. 

Finally, and this is particularly important in separating two really close entries, endorsements can make all the difference. From the CEO of the CFO, stakeholders and even suppliers, some kind of third party support really helps. 

The standard of entries improves year on year, and I imagine that trend will continue in 2009.

Good luck with entries next year.

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