The InterAction Collection

Taking SF Into A Larger Organisation

A conversation with Niklas Tiger

Feb 27, 2023


Introduced by John Brooker

Niklas Tiger was the MD of Hi5, an IT services company in which he embedded a culture of using the Solution Focus approach, a process he started in 2011. When he implemented SF in Hi5, he did not expect that one of the most successful outcomes would be the use they made of it with customers. They used it to obtain information from customers that enabled them to improve the outcomes of projects and increase customer satisfaction while adding very little time to the project. They used it internally too - as he says, it became part of the company DNA, - including in systems development, where SF matches well with Agile development methods.

In late 2021 Hi5 merged with Avantia, a company ten times the size. Having featured Hi5 previously in InterAction, in an interview with Shakya Kumara (find it here: https://www.sfio.org/interaction/2018-1/whole-organisation-adopts-sf ), the editors were curious about how Niklas might maintain that SF culture in a much larger company. We interviewed Niklas in November 2022 to find out.

Hi5 and Advania shared a culture of decentralisation, making it easier to merge the two companies. However, Advania did not use SF. To keep the flame of SF lit, the people who moved from HI5 decided to keep using SF and assumed that people in Advania would enjoy this way of working. Niklas wrote a column in the weekly company newsletter to share success stories about how Hi 5 used SF.

After Hi5 integrated into Advania, Niklas became the leader of Managed Services, with some 400 employees. He chose to use SF in this department, where he had control and no need to adopt “guerrilla SF” tactics. He realised that he could not understand everything going on in such a large department, so he started using SF to help people find solutions to their challenges. He notices evidence of people adopting SF due to his efforts. Recently he demonstrated SF to project managers and was asked to run a workshop with an important prospective customer, which received excellent feedback.

Niklas believes that, realistically, they are nowhere close to achieving ’10’ on the scale of creating a fully SF culture in Advania. He has realistic expectations, and as you might expect, he sees the way forward to be a series of small steps and using SF where it can be of most use. He also plans to provide training for select people who can make good use of it - managers, project managers and salespeople.

One of his ambitions is to use SF to create a better ‘feedback culture’. Another is to make project workshops a place where Managed Services co-creates solutions with the customer, where people measure the value by what the outcome is; where good preparation is that people come into the workshop with the right questions about what will be different if we are successful with this project - not deciding what the outcome is before.

So SF is making inroads into Advania and Niklas’s strategy appears to be to grow SF by:

  • Taking small steps and adapting to the context.
  • Using and adapting lessons learned from success in Hi5.
  • Being a role model for its use along with other ex-Hi5 employees.
  • Focusing on using it in key areas where it provides the most benefit.
  • Building awareness and adoption by using it to help individuals find solutions to their challenges rather than providing them with solutions.

It is a simple strategy, yet one that requires constant focus. Based on the track record at Hi5, success looks likely.