I started the business in 2007 when I left my last job as CEO of Agera Djurägandeutveckling, a wholly owned subsidiary of Agria Djurförsäkring. I was looking for more variety, freer forms of work and wanted to see where a solo journey would take me.
Hazika’s offers are based on my own experiences, knowledge and insights that have arisen during my own life’s journey. With the story that follows, I want to share how the services I offer have come to emerge.
Fresh out of university with a degree in economics and business administration, I began my professional career in a finance department as an analyst. During a ten-year period, I got the opportunity to do just about everything within financial analysis and planning. I was constantly searching for the right information as well as smart ways to manage that information. Since I have what I would refer to as productive laziness, I have always searched for better ways to get the job done. Preferably solutions where machines do the job, and thus free up time for people to think, something that digitalisation could help me with. What we did in the 80s and 90s were attempts at “data mining” and data-driven models for risk assessment, decisions, etc. Everything had to be built from scratch. By today’s standards, the tools would at best appear to be rudimentary, but we managed to create a BI system that lasted for a long time. I will leave to others to determine the level of business and intelligence respectively, but by the standards of the time it was a leap forward that accelerated information flows, made information more accessible and provided new insights.
At this time I also took on different leadership roles, both in a formal capacity managing teams and projects as well as an informal leader spearheading various issues. I was very fortunate to collaborate with driven and committed associates, where it was apparent that delegation of responsibilities and trusting in their abilities was a key to success. These are still core beliefs of mine and qualities of my leadership.
Organizational development and leadership
I had the privilege of working in an organization where the CEO was never content – “we can always get a little better”. For me, this meant new experiences and knowledge in quality and environmental management (ISO 9000 and ISO 14000), change management and process development. Planning and control took place from several perspectives (balanced scorecard and triple bottom line).
All business development was conducted with SIQ’s model for excellence as a frame of reference, something that paid off well, including but not limited to the Swedish Quality Award on two occasions. The second with the highest rating ever awarded. My contribution as a change leader was, among other things, to further develop the process organization and the balanced scorecard. Planning and control should of course be balanced at all levels and the different perspectives well integrated. A major challenge was to integrate environmental impact into all processes, an issue that did not have the same dignity in the service sector 20 years ago as it has today.
A crucial insight from this time was the understanding of the difference between performing tasks mechanically and performing them competently and intentionally, i.e. with a focus on the purpose of the task. There is a big difference between reading about balanced scorecards and organizing goals thematically to really manage and control a business in a balanced way from multiple perspectives. Or to go from “drawing process maps” to really managing the company’s processes to reach the desired outcomes. For me this became the journey towards understanding the importance of mastering different approaches. Something that completely changed my way of evaluating and learning, both in terms of my own efforts, my associates and the organization in general. The interest in how we evaluate, learn and change became so great that I and a colleague decided to explore learning organizations in more detail. Our research resulted in a master’s thesis presented at Stockholm University in January 2000.
Business development and entrepreneurship
In the middle of the dotcom crash in the spring of 2000, I took a new position as administrative director at a start-up in the internet industry. Really smart! And incredibly educational. I did not stay that long for personal reasons but my passion for innovation, entrepreneurship and everything digital was awakened! And yes, the company survived.
Working in environments where unwritten rules are uninteresting and where you are not limited by conventions but are free to think and do “as you wish” is a fantastic feeling. It is completely in line with my inherent motivations. I think the digital world is especially exciting because it is constantly changing, constantly new and fresh and there are things to discover.
Eventually, I came to work full time with entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business development as a consultant, CEO and through board assignments.
I was involved in changing the pricing model for software at an early stage. We needed to be able to reach a wider range of customers and at the same time strengthen the company’s earning capacity in order to increase the pace of development, and then we needed a more flexible way of charging for our software. Today, this is referred to as software as a service.
It was challenging for a small company to stand up to significantly larger customers and explain that they would now have to pay on an ongoing basis in relation to use instead of a fixed lump sum at the beginning of the contract period. But it worked. For me, it showed the importance of perseverance when deeply rooted habitual thinking is to change.
Entrepreneurship is very much personal. I have a great interest in animals and am a dog and cat owner myself. Who will take care of your dog when you have to be at work? In 2020 many have the option to work from home so the problem is less common, but 15 years ago it was very much a problem for dog owners. Spending time with animals has health-promoting effects. Through social entrepreneurship, we were able to create a business with several winners. Today this is a known model and we may not have been unique even back then, but I still think it is worth mentioning that to include social aspects in business is honorable and the experience showed me that there is no obstacle to financial success.
In new business projects, “the only thing you know is that you don’t know”. It’s like navigating unknown waters without charts. I have experienced the polar opposites of control in young businesses. In one case, the company was forced to conform to a rather bureaucratic and large control model. Something that felt like demanding an exact route from the captain without a nautical chart. The opposite pole to it was an agile approach where we explored the waters little by little. Of course we knew where we wanted to go, but not exactly what the road there would look like, or even which road to take. The agile model provided a much clearer goal orientation and also provided space for value-creating actions instead of spending time and energy on documentation that did not move the business forward. A much more meaningful approach to our challenge.
Business and organizational development is all about people. Even though we are talking about business, control and processes, the key to successful change has to do with people and what drives them. In my role as change leader, I stumbled onto the facilitator track because much of the work was organized in cross-functional workshops. It turned out that I had some talent for it, and it was fun too. In addition to learning through my own experiences, I have trained both in Sweden and in North America.
The key to my success as a facilitator lies in clear intention, great presence and ability to create a commitment among the participants and skill in identifying the right questions and for how long we should investigate various issues. A creative and productive workshop utilizes all the resources available during the limited time you have; it is the facilitator’s job to make it happen.
I have led workshops of the most varied kinds during the more than twenty years I have been active as a facilitator. They include strategic workshops with long-term plans as a result; business workshops where it has become clear how different parts of the business are connected and how progress towards the goals should be accomplished; customer interactive workshops for product development. I have also mediated between business partners with a shared strategic plan as an outcome.
Companies as part of an ecosystem
Somewhere during my journey, I began to think back to my educational roots and think about how we actually run companies and organizations, not just in terms of social aspects. A voice rang in my head: “Production takes place with scarce resources.” It’s hard to believe that is the case when you look around and scientists like Johan Rockström make it clear to us that we live outside the planetary boundaries.
So for whom are the resources scarce? For all of us together, of course. For individual companies and individuals? Certainly in some cases. In any case, it is clear that with the rate at which we overuse many natural resources, more and more people will experience this scarcity. How do we bring this into the DNA of corporate governance? The best starting point I have come across so far is circular business models. Truly circular models where we have a deep insight into how the organization is part of the earth’s ecosystem.
To be able to work really circularly, you have to go back to the drawing board. It is when designing your value proposition that you have the greatest opportunity to influence how you will interact with the outside world, both in terms of resource consumption and how you interact with other market players. It is simply a matter of designing sustainable solutions for the needs you want to solve instead of trying to make today’s solutions less unsustainable. It is important to rethink and think new thoughts.
In the new design situation, there are several accelerators, conditions that can increase the degree of sustainability but which in themselves are not the solution. One such accelerator is digital technology. Among other things, “the digital” contributes to building the ecosystems in which the companies of the future will operate. This is a large area that is just in its infancy. I look forward to exploring it further and seeing how it can contribute to sustainable solutions to humanity’s needs.
Walking the talk
I want to be part of the solution to the unsustainable situation we are in, both as a private citizen and as a business owner.
I have two principles for decisions I make: As little as possible and as long as possible. What this means is that I should consume as little as possible. When I acquire resources, I should use them for as long as possible. When I can no longer benefit from a product, my first choice will be to pass it on to someone else who can benefit from it, secondarily live on in some other form (remanufacture) or ultimately recycled. Nothing should go to landfill (a nicer word for dump).
Hazika’s biggest ecological footprint has been travel. Even though one of my principles is to travel environmentally friendly, there have been more times than I would like to think about where I have chosen less sustainable alternatives due to time constraints. Time to think differently. I have gone back to the drawing board and designed my services so that they can be delivered without transportation. For that reason, as of 2020, Hazika is an online business.