The SAGA Development SEO Andriy Vavrysh spoke about the reasons behind the company renaming, his vision for SAGA Development's mission, his special attitude to customers, and why it is important not only to construct in a good manner, but also to create a comfortable environment.
— Tell us, what caused the decision to rename?
— We are interested not in growth, but in the development. This means that the quality of the project, the depth of the idea, the sustainability and the cost-effectiveness are critically important conditions for the project is considered sufficiently worked out or, conversely, one that is still to be worked on. These qualitative changes require us to work on all the components that affect what we do, why we do it, what we aim for, why it matters to us, how we treat our responsibility. Renaming also follows from the fact, in what place and in what city we work in. For example, Odessa is not near the river, but it is our market, and it is important to us. We have not only objects near the water – we work around the city, have a large number of locations in the city centre.
It is important to us that our responsibility does not end at the time of the handing over the keys, but continues after that. We do not just declare it, we participate in it. Such a long history is our challenge. And the "Saga" is the best explanation that can capture the full focus of our attention and responsibility to make it absolutely clear to every team member, the companies we work with, the people, the city, civil society, everyone else. Therefore, it is SAGA Development.
— That is to say, the Riverside has rethought its mission and its own limits of responsibility? What prompted this rethinking?
— The development of our team. It became deeper, more qualitative and numerous, it learned what it didn't even consider when it started working. We are developing, this is our natural state, it is critically important for us not to leave it, because as soon as we become satisfied with ourselves, we begin to regress. That is why we always want every project to be better, every idea seems to be imperfect, every team member, although he is unsurpassed, but we really want him to be even better to make us all better together. That is why we are not focusing on the star cast of our team, but on the effect of the synergy we get from becoming bigger with one player. For us, the formula "1+1=2" is unacceptable. It must be 3 or more.
— What have you learned during the company's lifetime?
— The product of our activity in the broadest sense can be measured by stones or square meters, but it is only a physical form of measurement. The true product of our activity is, first, the quality and depth of the idea, which is then implemented and embodied in architecture. Secondly, the interaction of all team members is also a part of our product, and participation or unwillingness to participate affects the productivity of our work. Therefore, the small team that we had at Riverside Development: conditionally 25 people plus a Sales Team launched 9 projects in 1.5 years. This is our job. We know that there are companies that can do the same, but their number is 200 people. It is important. The small size of the team and the quality of interaction within the team are part of our product. Any decision, any philosophy and ideology can be made, but it is important to us that in this process we continue to make the projects we love, do not deviate from what we believe in and remain cost-effective.
We are valued by the market; we see our sales and we are thanked by our customers. In parallel with this process, we have developed a large list of new projects that we are launching this year. We have a big deal for the next year: deeper projects that are breaking new ground.
We understand that facilities must be more technological. This meant that we had to take care of the facilities functioning, in particular, the operation before and after the residents occupation. We have an R&D centre dedicated to developing new IT products. We are implementing our IT Sales and Customer Service systems. It is the infrastructure saturation and development of capabilities of the company itself. It is important for us that we can grow not only quantitatively but also qualitatively. So that functions that can easily be replaced by a computer, are side-lined.
— What else do you offer customers? How do you interact with them?
— Our interaction with already implemented projects is manifested in the fact that we communicate with customers about things that are important to them. We cannot just be clerks in our work: these tasks must be performed by some conditionally complex software. We listen to the customer.
During the dialogue, you can impose on the customer, for example, the standard terms of contracts, the typical formats of interaction, to be tough. And you can spend time talking to a customer and staying flexible. This is what matters to us in our interaction. At the time, Henry Ford said that the car can be any you like if it is black. This is the industrial age of the last century, when there were 3, 5 or 7 typical decisions, and everyone was encouraged to make these decisions. We see the same picture now. But we believe that we need to provide more opportunities, modify, and adapt design solutions to each individual customer. This applies to both the payment scheme and whether the offered formats of interaction are convenient for the customer. For small companies, these things are simple, for large ones it is impossible, so they refuse from them.
We set ourselves the standard of maximum flexibility for our customer. It requires a completely different level of relationships within. When you have a typical pattern and you impose it on everyone, it is one sense of the relationship in the company. A completely different content when you have the ability to adjust everything manually. This means that you have to trust your staff, you have to give them other powers: this is a completely different level of responsibility and capabilities. Technically, this is implemented in a format that allows you to quickly respond to customer requests. And the business processes themselves should be simple and understandable. All this together I put into the concept of growth.
— Do you manage to successfully implement these ideas?
— There's a long way between a lot of ideas and operational efficiency. We are partly able to achieve operational efficiency and be flexible, to create the conditions and opportunities under which people continue to do their work with pleasure, and they enjoy being part of the team. That is, interaction within the team is fundamental to us. When everyone goes for a common goal, not because someone is demanding something from someone. It makes us stronger. We don't create objects by ourselves. Construction is the process of interacting with a large number of contractors. It is normal practice when three dozen specialists work on design works and thousands are engaged in construction works. In addition, everything must be completed by a certain period of time. The projects must be implemented even better than they were originally conceived. We have enough fuck-ups related to the problem of growth. But we are working on it, and in the process of work there is a huge number of refinements and clarifications taking into account the wishes of customers. This work must be done according to a certain schedule, moreover: with certain dynamics of development. However, if all participants do not enjoy the process, it means that this system is wrong. Everyone would like to get involved in creating big and iconic projects. This is also our challenge. The number of those who want to cooperate with us is constantly growing. We are proud of the people we work with. It is a large system of businesses and partners that enable us to continue to develop as we like, while remaining efficient.
— How does SAGA see its mission? Is this a human-centric city where everyone is happy and feels comfortable?
— The main focus is on our own development. It is important for us to be a change agent in the market, an example for others. It is important that projects and solutions for the city become the drivers of quality changes. Just to be like others is not our ambition. We want another city. I am often ashamed to walk through the city and look at the level we are used to. I'm ashamed that after the snowfall, we first of all clean the driveway. From an engineering point of view, this is normal, maybe it is needed to avoid a traffic collapse. But it is absolutely illogical and abnormal that only on the third day we clean the sidewalks. It's just so obvious and simple.
— What does it take for a city to change?
— There is no other country that plans to implement ambitious projects, and at the same time, even on the central street of the capital, it does not create opportunities for it to be able to travel independently on a trolley from one side to the other. We do not have the technical capacity to do so. And for many years this situation has remained unchanged. When I was working in the city administration, we were literally dealing with this fatal mistake, but then the Head of the administration did not see the problem in this way, as he did not see it in cars on the sidewalks, he said: "And where should they stand?" Until Enrique Penalosa came to Kyiv and asked "What should be done to change everything?" Then he replied that we should start by clearing the sidewalks in the city centre from the cars. Until then, no one knew that Khreshchatyk could be different. Everyone was amazed, took photos. Now everything is coming back, although it is worth saying that the current administration is pursuing many good initiatives. But the trolley is still impossible to drive. Nothing has changed in 7 years. And when do you think: 7 years is a lot or a little? For a city that is 1.5 thousand years old, it may be a little. But if you look at the pace at which other countries are developing, the urban economies in the fight for human capital, it becomes clear that this is not just a lot – it is fatally much. I want my children to live in another, ethically-educated city.