Saturized — from inception to evolution

Today, after almost a decade of work, we know who we truly are, and where we want to go.

In order to survive in today’s market, design agencies need to learn how to evolve. It’s easy to get lost in the day-to-day of a business and forget about your vision. That’s what happened to us a couple years ago. We were so eager to progress that we (almost) lost track of who we were and who we wanted to be. Thankfully, we noticed this in time and were able to make changes that allowed us to continue doing what we love. We evolved. To tell you the story of our evolution, we must first tell you the story of our inception.

The Beginning

It all began way back in 2006 when the two of us, Goran and Zoran, met and started working together for a Dubai based company. Passion, curiosity, and dedication were essential ingredients of everything we did and we clicked very quickly. After six months we knew we had the same ambition — we wanted to create cutting edge websites that amaze people! This was not possible as long as we were working for someone that had a very traditional approach to design. However, we didn’t have a portfolio to back us up, so we made a website in Flash that captured the essence of what we meant by “cutting edge”. That’s how Saturized was born. Before long, we got noticed by digital agencies from the US who wanted us to work for them. After just a couple of years we were already working on projects for companies like Google, Yahoo, 20th Century Fox, Toshiba, Coca Cola, and HBO.

We realized that we’d need help if we were to make our dreams come true, so we expanded. Soon enough two became four, four became eight, and we moved into our first Saturized office. Each new team member had to share the same passion for creating incredible web experiences! We were fortunate in those early days, because we found people that shared our ideals and had the necessary skills. Fueled by passion, and driven by the energy every member of the team felt, we became unstoppable!

Turning Point

Work started flooding in. We had something truly unique and clients recognized that. Every project was equally important, and every member of the team was invested one-hundred-percent! However, there’s always a limit to the amount of work a team can do. In 2011 we were hired on a project, which required us to hire more people, mostly developers. It was time to expand again.

Finding 8 people that shared the same passion for excellence and had the necessary skills was hard enough — finding more proved to be even harder. By the end of the year, we grew to a team of 30 people! Everything seemed great, until we realized that we’d lost track of something very important — our identity, passion, and energy. People were not on the same page in terms of quality and overall goals, our methodology and procedures couldn’t support so many employees. “Overnight”, we became a development company, which was completely different from what we wanted to be.

Hard Decisions

Simply put, we hired the wrong people. Instead of staying true to our core values by hiring only people that shared our passion and vision, we hired people that could only get the job done. We became a factory! Those of us that were there from the beginning started feeling almost ill. It was a painful experience, and we even considered leaving Saturized altogether! Time spent in the office stopped being a pleasure and became something you did every day just to earn a living. The Saturized energy was gone.

What came next was the hardest decision we had to make since our foundation. Letting people go is never easy, but it was something we did in order to find what we had lost. We had to filter out those of us that kept true to the core values that got us together in the first place, while the rest had to go. Gathering the remaining team members we started the process of rebuilding. We knew it was going to be long and hard, but it didn’t matter, because we knew that the only way to move forward was through evolution.

The Evolution

The first order of business was defining our values. We realized that what we intuitively felt were our values was on the right track. Creating incredible web experiences that make everyday life better was always at the core of Saturized, but we also needed to put it down on paper so that everyone was clear on what our values, mission and vision were. This was the moment when our evolution truly started.

Everyone had to be aware of what it meant to be a Saturator. After a lot of team meetings, discussions, research, we defined our six core values:

  1. Strive for excellence in all that you do
  2. Never stop working on yourself
  3. The only way to change is for the better
  4. Always stay positive
  5. Be a part of the team
  6. Make sure you understand the whole concept

Every home needs a foundation, and we decided that these six core values were the foundation of ours.

At this time we took a hard look at our services as well. We realized that our core strength was design, and that it has to be our main focus. Keeping that in mind, we also found in us the desire to create unique digital products. Something we haven’t done in the past, but were excited to try. With a clear vision of what we were going to focus on, and a new area to explore, it was time to finetune the system. Every part of Saturized’s methodology now had a corresponding procedure, we were leaving nothing to chance. This helped us immensely.

Defining our goals

In early 2015 we chose 7 categories in which we needed to improve. All team members were involved in the improvements on a voluntarily basis. These categories were:

  1. Projects
  2. Team
  3. Internal Organization
  4. Office
  5. Personal Development
  6. Promotion
  7. Products

We had some amazing ideas coming in, many of which we developed and included in our day-to-day operations. For example, once a month the whole team would get together, relax, and have fun. We introduced a rewards system, that never existed in Saturized before. We even experimented with our continuous performance review that later lead to the development of a tool we now use and plan to market, ReportNest. The change that made the most impact was definitely introducing 1-on-1 meetings with Zoran. He provided everyone with much needed feedback in regards to their work, answered all those questions that people didn’t know who to ask, or if they would be appropriate, and generally made the team aware that their input was as important as the managers’ opinions. Communication opened up and ideas for improvements were multiplying. Keeping track of who was working on which category of improvement became difficult and we didn’t have clearly set priorities in our “improvements backlog”.

We needed to find a framework that would allow us to have a clear picture of the available resources in terms of time, money and people. That’s how we came across OKRs. Objectives and Key Results is a powerful tool used by great agencies we look up to that helps us communicate objectives and their outcomes with the whole team. Considering our past issues, we realized that this is the perfect solution for us.

Having clearly defined and achievable goals helped us immensely. After defining our long term objectives, defining the OKRs enabled us to focus on activities that will help us reach our desired objectives. Each team member is now able to see the bigger picture and help achieve commonly shared goals, using their talents and the available time. Leaving us with the opportunity to further develop teamwork through education, community service, and team building. The team that once resembled a rudderless ship stranded at sea is now a united and perfectly aligned unit, ready for any challenge.

The New Saturized

During the last nine years we’ve established ourselves as one of the best creative agencies in the country. Instead of being one of the best, we want to be THE best. An award winning agency in which every designer and creative developer wants to work. We are building an elite agency! That means that not everyone can become a part of Saturized. The size of the team is irrelevant, as long as every member exhibits excellence in all they do. We mean to maintain this standard no matter what. However, once someone becomes a part of our team, we invest in them to the extent of our abilities. Each Saturized member is a part of one big family, and families take care of each other. All of us work together to become the best versions of ourselves. Constantly improving, learning, and thinking about the future. We believe that by inspiring excellence in others we ourselves become excellent!

With all the changes now in place we have a solid plan for the next three years. Our vision has been revised, along with our mission and values. The office is bursting with positive energy, with every Saturator coming into work ready to push the limits and work on cutting edge projects in fashion, music, sport, and for startups. This is the beginning of a new era for us, and we just can’t wait to see where it takes us!

Moving forward we plan on sharing more of our experiences and knowledge with all of you. Follow us and see what we have in store for you.

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Check out our amazing portfolio and follow our work on Dribbble and Behance!