The Ho Ike Way, Business Social Responsibility in Hawaii

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Screen-Shot-2013-05-07-at-12.59.23-PMThis is part of a series of articles written about Envision Hawaii, Honolulu’s monthly First Tuesday gathering that showcases the coolest, greenest goings-on in the emerald of the Pacific. Ecopreneurist is proud to be the official media sponsor of Envision Hawaii….see previous Envision Hawaii articles and speakers here. 

This month’s Envision Hawaii speaker was Kehau Kali Berquist, a business professional with an eye for sustainability’s ‘4 Ps’ (purpose, people, prosperity and planet). Her sustainability consulting firm, The Ho Ike Group, uses a system they refer to as the Ho Ike WayTM, a hybrid of western business models and traditional Hawaiian values. Ho Ike, in Hawaiian, means to know. Not in a “I learned it in school” kind of way, but a deeper understanding, as if the knowledge was somehow part of your bloodlines, passed down through generations of talking story, as it’s called here in Hawaii when people spend time getting to know each other and learn from each other.

The Ho Ike Group does strategic planning and management consulting to help Hawaii’s businesses incorporate traditional knowledge and values to help make them better neighbors on these small islands.

“The thing that keeps coming up, which is critical for long term sustainability, is leadership,” said Berquist. For an organization to thrive over time, some continuity of leadership is critical. This can come from internal or external mentoring.

20130702_084532-675x1024Berquist consulted a solar company with the Ho IkeTM method, in which the company was being formed from three existing companies. The beginning starts with a strategic planning session, in which the company comes away with a strategic plan focused around the 4 P’s:

  • vision and mission
  • leadership structure and continuity plan
  • HR management plan, in which team members are given an assessment ahead of time and the information is used during the session
  • the customer is examined in detail to get at their true wants and needs and not just the short term sale
  • planetary considerations were assessed with the company’s supply chain and embodied energy of its products
  • and finally, the company looked at whether it could pay a reasonable wage to all employees

Berquist describes how the Hawaiian language incorporates much that surrounds business social responsibility. An attendee at Envision Hawaii asked if the word aloha applied, and Berquist said that aloha, to her, just means love. It’s the word that captures the spirit of the Hawaiian people, but the word she thinks is most pertinent to business and the 4 P’s of social responsibility is pono. Pono is a word that means “right and good”, and conveys a spirit of being a good neighbor, doing the right thing, and building community. Waiwai, a word that means prosperity for all, and malama, a word that means taking care of all, were also words she used to describe social responsibility in Hawaii.


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