Owner's Journey


For many industry professionals, there is no better feeling than realising an owner’s ultimate dream. Meeting this challenge can certainly be demanding for those involved; experienced owners are more likely to know the ropes, but how can we convey the process in an enticing and appealing narrative to a first-time, new-build client?

Focusing on the owner’s journey must be the principal goal here. For ownership of a superyacht to be rated among the ultimate of experiences, the path to the final product should be equally fulfilling. This is not a new viewpoint, but what common aspects can we identify to define each owner’s perfect journey?

Owners may base their initial expectations of ownership and use on either their own chartering experience, the advice of friends and colleagues or just examples that have caught their eye in publications. Owners who are more inquisitive may take a technical stance and approach a naval architect to explore parameters; others may focus on the look and feel of their dream and engage with a designer or a shipyard to investigate the package as a whole.

Whether an owner takes the direct approach or has the support of an experienced representative or broker, the most effective professionals must have the confidence to bring in other parties rather than just coaxing projects towards their own individual experiences and strengths.

The owner’s perfect journey must be a bespoke recipe. Therefore, no single individual or company should expect to provide all the ingredients required or assume they can always deliver the owner’s voice. As an industry, this is one area where we can struggle. In a rush to come up with the perfect solution, we can sometimes miss the real point: the star ingredient in the recipe can be described as uncovering the owner’s ‘special meaning’.

What is the owner’s burning desire behind the intended new build? What are their interests and will those interests be met by the time the yacht is delivered?

Posing these questions and forming mutually understood answers is vital to realise the owner’s ultimate dream. While doing this, we should ask ourselves if searching for solutions is enough: real breakthroughs are all about looking for the meaning while being prepared to question the established ‘normal’.

American scholar Warren G. Bennis once said, “Effective leaders allow great people to do the work they were born to do.” A new-build yacht owner can be one of these effective leaders enabling us all to do great work. However, are we doing our best to recognise and make the best use of the resources that surround us on behalf of the owner?

The industry mantra should be that a collaborative approach produces a higher value result than the sum of each of the individual parts. Effective collaboration can grow only with trust between project partners. I genuinely believe that levels of trust are changing for the good in the industry: in recent years, my employer, Lateral Naval Architects, has collaborated more and more with designers who are actively seeking to introduce a balanced team directly at the owner’s table during the pre contract stages of a project.

The business strategy is to provide appropriate technical insight to support and cultivate creative design, not to govern it. The owner’s journey benefits from this confidence and trust in collaboration because it is a practical approach to produce new designs that are a visually pleasing, technically exciting and a reduced risk to the builder.

Providing the right level of detail in a staged approach is a crucial skill for all those with leading roles in the owner’s journey; experienced team members will know that a project needs the flexibility to evolve from an early stage. The team has to carefully consider how each decision aligns with the next. For every step of the owner’s journey, it is essential to give the right depth of insight, with care taken in avoiding the natural tendency to over-develop the details or, worse, push an individual agenda when decisions on more general aspects are not yet addressed. With suitable care, this continual spiral and flow of information can be a harmonious one for the owner and project team alike.

The owner’s journey could be compared to conducting an opera, where the various experts blend and complement their skills in pursuit of the most exceptional melody. However, who should have the honour of directing such a magnificent composition? It will vary for each owner and, ultimately, it should not matter because direction without the full range of performers will never succeed in delivering the owner’s finest melody – the owner’s perfect journey.

Matteo Magherini

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