Enable them and they will build it!

SAP Customers mixing work and fun!

For awhile now we’ve heard that companies, especially large ones need to enable and empower their employees to be thought leaders, innovators and of course inventors! However, how does one really go about enabling them? Or rather more specifically from an SAP perspective how does one go about it? Internally we’ve adopted the 10% model, and I’ve seen several examples of what comes out if it and I have to say the results are amazing!

One can say though that SAP internally has all the resources necessary to enable their employees but how does a partner company or even a customer do the the same thing and why in the world would you want to? What benefit does a customer or partner have by enabling their SAP focused employees to be empowered and enabled to do more? Is that not what you are paying them for to begin with? At which point does the “normal” job stop and the innovation and invention begin? How does one reward such activity and encourage it?

SAP has over the years taken several steps to provide a showcase for customers and partners, such as speaking opportunities, demo and presentation opportunities and of course co-innovation with programs such as COIL. The DemoJam event was a very successful one, however our own internal employees began to see the value and opportunities and soon the ratio of employee to non-employee became very unbalanced.

In response to this unbalance as well as a call to arms by our developer ecosystem, SAP has taken further steps with several trial systems and developer license options. The biggest was just recently announced in May of this year at the SAP SAPPHIRE NOW 2012 event in Orlando. Dennis Howlett said it best in a wrap up,

Having been privy to the possibility of a developer related announcement it seemed to take forever before Sikka uttered the magic words: “HANA developer licenses are now free for everyone.”

This was coupled together as well to the further steps taken in terms of Developer Relations at SAP.

Again what does this mean besides a more level playing field for event opportunities such as the DemoJam? Well for starters thanks to the new Developer Center your employees whether you are a customer or partner are now able whenever they like to step forward and pick up on the newest technologies from SAP for free.

Now couple that with an open and encouraging position from your management about innovation and then sit back and watch as your employees take the chance to try something new and see about making their lives easier. It’s human nature to want to be lazy, lets face it – know anyone who doesn’t like to slow down and take a break every once and awhile? In this regard though this is a perfect thing as it often means many of your employees have already figured out how they can make their jobs more efficient and easier, they just need the right motivation (meaning permission) to try and the tools to try with.

Doing a quick search online you’ll come across several pieces on motivating employees, 7 tips, 9 tips, 20 ways, etc. although different there are very similar elements to each.

Some of the greatest innovations I’ve seen recently have been made by employees in various different companies and organizations who simply had a solution to cutting the amount of time they spent on specific tasks in their job; once they were given that green light by management to explore a solution they quickly realized one and put it into place. Saved time on those tasks meant an increase in productivity. While researching more about productivity increases from innovation I came across a seminar that had taken place,

In a seminar organised for members of its Company Network, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions explored sustainable strategies related to the implementation of new forms of work organisation

With some great examples of such workplace innovation from companies like Volvo and the Dutch Tax and Customs Administration.

SAP has also begun experimenting with several examples of work place environments to help foster innovation like the AppHaus model and from a technology side with Driving Mobile Innovation. We’re also no stranger to trying new business models in developing countries and even in countries thought to be as leaders already.

The point of all this is simple, provide your employees with the “permission” to try something new and different to make their jobs easier and many will do so simply because they can with little regard for anything more than a straight forward “thank you” and of course give them access to the tools to do it.

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