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Posts Tagged bouwquest

Targeting the problem… and it is high time to do so!

So, this is the last week, and we have so many other things to do. Which is why it is useful to post a blog entry: so that later, after the madness is over, we can read and reflect on our raw experiences we are scribbling now.

Luckily, so luckily, we have two awesome, creative multimedia people in our group: Claire and Stefan. I think if we had more time, more of us would want to be involved in the video and learn how to make one, but due to time constraints it is more practical if the experts do it. I think this is a challenge that “real” companies also have to solve: always make the competent employees do a task (meaning that the others will never get to that level) or let everyone learn, at the expense of time efficiency.

However, we are by no means missing out on the whole process. After many meetings and a lot of tiptoe-ing around the problem, we drew a conclusion, carefully at first, but then we realized that we were on the right track. Our NGO does not really have a problem, at least not with their activity, and not with technology either. BouwQuest is prospering, and it is very active on several online community platforms.

BouwQuest is not in the need for financing either, so crowdfunding does not apply to them. They are really only spreading a non-controversial idea of insulation and passive houses, which makes our task easier and harder at the same time. They are not asking people for money, quite to the contrary: we want to show them a way how they can save on heating. Unfortunately, this is not something people would gather behind: it is not an exciting enough idea.

What BouwQuest has is a marketing problem, which Carl-Peter summarised as “make insulation sexy”. Therefore it is most connected to the last topic of the course. The reasons for this are several: the fact that the idea is not captivating enough in itself, the widespread misunderstandings related (eg. passive houses are much more expensive than normal houses, making them unaffordable for most people), and the fact that BouwQuest doesn’t have a well defined target audience, even though it would be possible to do so.

The way I see it, the online communication of BouwQuest is suffering from a bit of an aesthetics problem, as well as a consistency one.

Let me explain. Here:

This is our client’s website. Based on what I’ve found out, my suggestions would be:

1. The website of BouwQuest is not really visually captivating, also it is exclusively in Dutch, meanwhile, they would like to appeal to the whole of Europe. This is one thing that could be fixed.

2. The other is that the visitor really has to look around on both the website and the Facebook page to find all the activities of BouwQuest. Carl-Peter met Al Gore and he posted a picture, saying Al Gore mentioned him “in his speech”. I looked for that speech all over the place, but I couldn’t find it. This is something anyone reading that entry would be interested in!

After some research, I found out that they are actively participating in something I was planning to propose: open days at passive houses. But this is not properly communicated either. I know many Hungarian companies, even small ones, who share something on their Facebook every second day for the sake of sharing, and this results in many likes, therefore they will always be present in many people’s feed on Facebook. In this respect, it doesn’t even matter if the content is connected to their activity, as long as it is within their values.

3. In BouwQuest’s case, I would also make use of some branding, because neither his vision nor his values are properly communicated. Along those values, he could then expand his network and collaborate with other organisations.

4. In the case of most NGO’s, there is never enough time to do the communication, because the employees’ energies are - very correctly - dedicated to the core activities. However, it is worth considering asking someone, even maybe students, to keep the website and Facebook updated. BouwQuest has so many pages that I would even suggest they should shut down a few of them and concentrate on the ones that can really be filled with content and can attract visitors. In the issue of passive house promotion, for example, they could work together with other related organizations and create a really strong campaign.

My team mates share a lot of these ideas and therefore we will incorporate them in a video as well. The concept is that we will narrow the challenge (the “hook”) down to one question, present the NGO and passive houses (we are trying to make this part informative enough so BouwQuest can use it to promote passive houses), and then we will BAM! the end with our ideas at a solution. I am confident that our team will make the most of the limited time and the never enough knowledge flow from our tutors (wink wink Nancy), and we’ll end this course with a resounding success.

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Posted in Community, Group BAM, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Project Adventures by E.Chrobacsinszky

A STARR from the future

The STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) format is a job interview technique used by interviewers to gather all the relevant information about a specific capability that the job requires. This interview format is said to have a higher degree of predictability of future on-the-job performance than the traditional interview.

It’s the end of October. I have been burning the midnight oil over our project for some days now. While I’m waiting for an humongous pdf to download, I doze off on my desk. My eyelids start to flutter to the rhythm of my PC’s fan. REM phase activated.


"Good morning, Eszter, nice to see you again", our NGO welcomes me. Looks like I have been chosen to present our final results. The reasons escape me, but here I am, alone. And I have no idea what’s in the folder I’m holding in my hands. 

"What have you got for me?", he asks, as we settle down in his office. I am panicking. My mind goes blank. Breathe, I tell myself. You are a professional. You are prepared. NO YOU ARE NOT, my mind snaps at me, and as I look down on the folder, I notice I am wearing pajamas. Adorned with purple ducklings. 

Erm”, I start out, but then I fall silent. Think. Where did we start from? Morphological design. Integrated design. Integrating whom? Contractors, electricians, insulation specialists, the client and the investor. Aha. This could be a start. I will start with the task and hope the solution comes to me later. 


"You asked us to take morphological design to the next level. We then realized this is about nothing else than using your existing connections to raise awareness in the architectural community", I state the obvious. But I learned this is a great way to spot things others take for granted.  He leans forward. "And then what did you do?" "Cooked and talked, mostly", I blurt out, immediately regretting it. Sweat is trickling down my spine. My toes are clutching my… flip flops? Oh no. This is not happening. What could I say about our teamwork?

I wanted to be the manager to avoid having a bad manager. I didn’t know these guys at all. When I started to, I realized it is much more responsibility being a good leader when the members are as bright and determined as in BAM!. We are culturally very diverse. It was hard to open up and share our opinion on controversial world issues, and that was before we had conflicts about the project. Yet, with each social occasion we grew closer, and we could collaborate better the next time we got down to serious business. 

I think of the general confusion of the beginning. The fourth week, when we were still in the darkness as regards the assignment itself. We had many bad days, one of us just quit smoking, and other classes started to take over our sanity. It was chaos. But we were learning to ask questions. And this was when the cooking started.


"Cooking and talking?", he asks, without smiling. All the sweet (and sour) memories evaporate. I want to shrink, to flatten, to crawl out under the door. But suddenly, I hear a question and I do a double take. "Who was the best cook?"

"Christian", I reply without hesitation. Our communication guy, who had not always read the prepared questions before a meeting, but who was always respectful and excited to hear the answer. Lina, who made sure everything was ready on time. Derisa, who took notes and administered our meetings with Nancy. Maartje, who helped out wherever she could. Stefan and Claire, who were the busiest with the video. The video!


"We’ve made a video for you", I say, and I open the folder, hoping to find some data storage device. Instead, a horde of colourful butterflies bursts out. We both laugh. "Just a little special effect", I add, immensely relieved to find a USB drive and some explanatory drawings inside. He shooes some butterflies from his computer and plugs the stick in. The video starts.

"I’m impressed", he says, at the end of the longest five minutes of my life. "How did you achieve this in six weeks?"

"We had a great team", I reply. 

The beeping of the finished download wakes me up. A message awaits me in the team’s Facebook group. It’s not fit to print. But I know that when the times comes to present, they will be there just the same.


The short story above is a fast forward, or a nightmarish scenario about the end of this project. I am not using the words “completion” or “result”, because it is not at all guaranteed we will come up with anything definitive, or even affirmative. But what we ask and learn along the way is just as important. And one shared passion of ours is to document everything in both words and pictures, so even if we don’t solve any problems, we’ll have something to show to our grandchildren!

One thing I observed about our group is that we haven’t had any high stakes yet. Considering Tuckman’s model, we are in the forming phase. Nobody has a lot of expertise in any of the areas we’ve been touching (architecture, design processes, crowdsourcing), so we have no more serious decisions to make than where to meet for that beer. I expect that in the future, when we have improved our skills or wade into the expertise of one of us, and more conflicts will arise. 

It would be easy to say that luckily we are seven in the group, so we can always rule by simple majority. But I think we have more brains among us than to do that - we’ll ask and debate and persuade. To link back to last week’s topic: how great we have Whatsapp and Facebook, where we will get an answer from team mates within two minutes at any hour of the day or night!

Here, a purple duck by Angela Lippitt:

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Posted in Community, Group BAM, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Project Adventures by E.Chrobacsinszky

But I’m doing everything I’m supposed to! WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?

Many people ask themselves this question, the subject be weight loss, socializing, finding a new job or even cooking. I am putting in all I’ve got, I researched the topic and I applied all the ideas I’ve found to my situation, yet no progress is visible. I feel our NGO has kind of this problem.

BouwQuest is super active on all possible platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, and they even have an awesome website and wiki. All the more impressive considering that the whole enterprise is the work of one man, who has a job on the side! And yet, there are not enough followers. The crowd they want is just not gathering on these forums. And within our group, we realised that our real question Carl-Peter is asking is WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? It took us some time, but we’ve got there. 

Now, for the solutions. Let’s go back to the cooking example. Well, maybe you are not using the best materials (online equivalent: you are using the wrong platforms for your target group). Or the flavouring is not right (the tone of voice or the graphics are not appealing). Or you are simply cooking according to Italian tastes, when your audience came to a Chinese restaurant. 

The lesson to be learned is that it’s not that you are doing something wrong. It’s that you can always get better. 

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Posted in Community, Group BAM, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Project Adventures by E.Chrobacsinszky

The idea behind it

Yesterday we went on a little road trip… and the title was the phrase that stuck with me the most. We met the one man who runs the BouwQuest show: Carl-Peter Gossen. And he always seemed to have an idea behind everything.

The thing is that Dutch language apart, the website of BouwQuest left a lot of questions in my mind. What is it they do exactly? For whom do they work? How do they raise funds? Who is working there, at all? Now we could ask all those, and fortunately, we stumbled upon very clear visions and structures.

Carl-Peter is an architect, who, in 2007, decided that he is better off on his own, and he started his own company. He outlined to us that while in the 90s, design was all about technical development and in the first years of the new decade, the emphasis shifted to brand creation and making your mark, nowadays it is collaboration that is king. 

He introduced us to the concept of integrated design. He showed us the oeuvre of his inspiration, Le Corbusier. We were amazed by how modern buildings he designed immediately after WWII. 

source: Wikipedia

Another pivotal concept for BouwQuest is morphological design. Its baseline is that by making all the decisions in the beginning, with the involvement of specialists from each field (eg. architect, designer, insulation expert, contractor, and oh, let’s not forget the client), the concept will be more solid, easier to execute, and faster and cheaper to realise. This is really a smart idea, and I can only wonder why everybody is not doing it yet.

This is precisely our job: to get architects on the bandwagon. We have to come up with a strategy for that. My only problem now is that I like the idea so much that I’m getting committed to it… so we’ll have to come up with something awesome so as not to let our NGO down!

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Posted in Community, Group BAM, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Project Adventures by E.Chrobacsinszky