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The team of thinkers that aimed to increase hope during times of uncertainty.

By Fiona Bauhofer, Emma Fuchs, Carlijn Stam & Maren Mundin.

The semester started during a time where you could still meet people. What a blessing! Carlijn, Fiona, Maren, and Emma found each other through their common interest in disasters and hope. Shortly after, the team and their coach realized that they are thinkers which means they love learning new things and understanding the know-how but applying the knowledge… not so much. This meant that the exploring phase was no problem; the team could research different problems and their causes extensively. Eventually, they had to realize that it’s not possible to solve disasters in a couple of months. Therefore, they focused on a new problem which is: Lack of hope during disaster-prone times. This topic shift opened a door to an important collaboration: The Hope Project.

Not long after deciding on a topic, the corona situation got more serious again. The university closed and meetings weren’t possible anymore; only online. As three of the team members are German, the team was split up as Emma and Maren decided to move back to Germany. This meant that from then onwards, team meetings and stakeholder meetings had to take place online. The team was determined to not let this break them and their motivation apart; team bonding still happened with online games such as GeoGuessr. Next to that, the team decided to meet with another Value Creator team bi-weekly and update each other on each other’s progress. This helped to stay in contact with more people experiencing the same difficulties.

Thankfully the team spirit stayed high and the pandemic did not stop them from contacting many different individuals and NGOs. The responses were surprisingly positive, and the team created a network of academics, NGOs, and projects giving them diverse perspectives on the topic. However, in between the team did feel lost; what kind of product can stimulate hope during a pandemic? It had to be online, that was sure. And how could the team let go of their “thinker” -side to create a valuable product? What stakeholder was that again? Is what we are working on enough?

Eventually, the team decided to create a challenge that aims to increase hope in youth to build resilience for current and future disasters. This idea was inspired by the Geluksacademie who wanted to do something similar in Dutch. Using the input from academics, the Hope Project, and research on increasing hope, the team compiled daily challenges that students can easily take part in. The process was done with several feedback loops; each stakeholder received the draft/idea and could give feedback. Eventually, the team decided to have a focus group discussion with the main stakeholders: The Hope Project and the Geluksacademie. During that, the product was taken apart, as their feedback was very constructive and critical. Therefore, the team had to build up the product all over again.

What the team learned from this experience is that you have to keep adapting and embrace all the feedback given. Eventually, you must decide, however, how you want the product to look like and make sure that you communicate that with stakeholders. For future Value Creators: Communication is important! Keep your stakeholders up to date and involved in the progress so miscommunication is unlikely.

Not only open communication between the network and the team was important, but communication within the team was even more important. Especially, during such a difficult time.

To conclude, the team created a 10-day challenge which can be found here:

Overall, it was an interesting experience as the team created a value product for a target group of which they are also part of; youth who lost hope during a pandemic. The last semester was an unusual one, but each team member learned from this experience and the importance of embracing uncertainty.

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