The Hunger Games: A Metaphor For Government Proposals

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Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard of The Hunger Games, the dystopian trilogy by Suzanne Collins that has edged out Harry Potter’s seven books as Amazon’s best-selling series of all time. The movies set records, and fans worldwide were hysterical in their enthusiasm.

If you have been under that rock, here’s a summary: think of a post-apocalyptic America, celebrating an Olympics-Gladiator Games spectacle featuring Tributes who fight to the death in a high tech arena using only the training they already have and the tools and weapons they can find or make. The last survivor brings honor, glory, and prosperity to his home District for the remainder of the year.

When I’m not working on proposals, I’m reading — usually multiple things at once, often so-called adolescent literature, frequently science fiction or fantasy. So it comes as no surprise that this well written, powerful series tops my list for Best. Books. Ever.

What did surprise me though, was how much the Games remind me of writing proposals for government contracts. Maybe it was too much popcorn in the theatre…but when I finally got my hands on the DVD, I found the same connections running through my head.

So here, just for fun, is a list of facts about the fictional world of The Hunger Games that I find strikingly similar to the often surreal world of government contracting and proposals:

• The Capitol is a strange land, unique unto itself, not well known or understood by outsiders

• The Capitol controls the Games for its benefit and amusement

• The Games take place in strange territory with hidden traps and danger zones

• The Games affect all aspects of Panem’s society

• The Gamemaker sets the rules

• The Gamemaker can change the rules without warning

• The Gamemaker provides a lot of useful tools and supplies, if you can get them

• The Gamemaker has his favorites

• The Gamemaker always answers to someone higher up the food chain

• Tributes represent all Districts with different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds

• Some Tributes are well trained to compete; some have no experience at all

• Some Tributes volunteer but most are dragged in against their will

• Tributes can form alliances to improve their chances of survival

• Tributes who don’t get the necessary tools and training don’t survive

• Tributes who get the Gamemaker’s attention in a spectacular way improve their odds

• Good Stylists have life saving strategies to help you stand out from the crowd

• Mentors are former Tributes who survived and can pass on their lessons learned

• Sponsor support can mean the difference between life and death

• The viewing audience watches closely

• The audience expects fairness in competition and gets angry when it’s absent

And finally (spoiler alert):

Just when you think you've won, it’s time to start all over again

Feel free to add your own ideas as a comment. And may the odds be ever in your favor!

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AuthorCarol Turpin

Carol Turpin is a Proposal Consultant and former Vice President of AOC Key Solutions. She has more than 25 years of experience as a proposal strategist, proposal manager, publications manager, contract negotiator, technical writer, and editor. Ms. Turpin has led proposal efforts, helping to win over $6.5 billion in contract value

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