Tuesday, February 17, 2009

CSI: Design Associates

Bosley, Howie, and I had a post-mortem on the interview for the cancer center near Wheatlands that we didn't get.  It appears that they were impressed by the amount of experience we had, and they thought our proposal was really good and clear.  They also could tell that we were really up on our technology, with regards to Revit.  However, our presentation during the interview was jumbled and hard to understand, and it seemed like they couldn't get a straight, easy-to-follow answer out of us on some of the questions.  We also didn't seem very interested in them, the guy said.  Which I thought was weird--why the hell would we come out there and do that presentation if we weren't interested in them?  I guess it was a matter of saying their name more or something.  I'm really at a loss on that one.

They also felt like we dropped the ball on interior design.  One of the clients asked our interior designer about research regarding cancer center design (using research on healthcare facilities to design your buildings is often called "evidence-based design"), and she started talking about how she loved all colors and would design them something warm and inviting.  It was a softball question, and she whiffed it.  Also, we never seemed to have a good answer for the question "what projects have you done together?"  Thing is, we have all done lots of healthcare projects, just not together.  The idea is that we're putting the best people for the project on it.  Actually, that's a really good answer, and when I offered it, Bosley liked it.

For me personally, Howie and Bosley suggested that I write my notes to be more like something I'd say, not something quite as "eloquent" as I did this time.  Which is a good point--I cribbed from my script from the last project interview, and it felt a little stilted.  Plus, I covered some parts of the presentation that I have never dealt with and don't have a lot of experience in dealing with, like working with budget and schedule.  I mean, I deal with it as a matter of getting my project done, but I'm never the keeper of the budget or schedule.  That's usually more of a contractor thing.  (That's not a good excuse, I know, but it's been my experience.)  So I was having to talk about things that I wasn't clear on and didn't really believe in.  Our interior designer also had her words almost literally written for her by Audrey, so she too was out of her element.  I also learned from Bosley that the guy who had an ax to grind with us "forgot" to send us notice about the presentation, so while everyone else had since January 5th, we only had a week to prepare for the presentation.

It's been said that we learn more from our failures than our successes.  I suppose that's true.  We have to figure out what to learn from this. Do we just knee-jerk react and do for the next presentation whatever this one was lacking, do we gently integrate some of the things from this presentation?  Whatever we learn, we need more than a freaking week to do it.


Anonymous said...

Clients are fickle. We as architects have to show a certain level of enthusiasm for a project that will make the client feel like they're getting something special (that fine line between "I'm really honored to be here but I don't want to scare you by acting high" and "I like you - you got purty lips").

Sometimes the answer to a question isn't nearly as important as to how you answer the question. When a client asks about the construction schedule you know that's really up to the contractor, but do you merely say "that's someone else's responsibility" or do you answer "we will do everything we can to promote a proactive dialog with the contractor to better facilitate an expedient construction process." If they sense a lack of confidence in your presentation it's very difficult for them to get past that.

The best you can do is to be true to yourself, and if they don't like that then the project just wasn't meant to be.

I'm sure you guys will get the next project coming down the pike.

Wilderness Gina said...

So.... what's this ax-grinding guy's name? I've got a call in to Jon Stewart's Uncle Vinnie in Jersey. We'll let HIM deal with this a-hole.

Miss Kitty said...

Clients aren't just fickle. They suck.

I'm so sorry you guys didn't get the projeck. [pppttthhh] to those assholes...maybe it would've been another Squidwort/Plankton experience with those people.