Monday, December 20, 2010

Build 8, Building 18 and The People Centric SAP OnDemand Team

When I started managing SAP Enterprise Learning, I used to work out of building 8 in Walldorf, which is a bit like the Escher stairs painting. When you walk to a meeting, you could easily get lost and spend a good 15 minutes finding the room. Corridors will suddenly go down for no apparent reason, doors will open to unexpected places and confuse you. The building is so because that is where SAP started small in Walldorf more than 35 years ago. The building was expanded slowly as the company became big.

On the other hand, the new buildings in Walldorf are star shaped. All the necessary amenities such as coffee, restrooms, water, stairs, elevators, and smoking rooms are in the middle of the building. This architecture ensures that people run into each other unplanned, several times a day. When my colleagues walk into the center of the building they can even glance up or down and see colleagues working in other floors.

Building 18, where the SAP OnDemand team works, enables chance encounters and exchange of ideas

Last week I worked from both buildings and I could not help but notice the difference in work atmosphere. I almost felt like it reflected the realization that products today are a collection of ideas and not a result of material processing on an assembly line.

The SAP OnDemand team of product managers, developers and co-innovation people work from building 18. The building enables, and I hope nurtures, the people centric design thinking of the SAP OnDemand team.

Like the architects of building 18, the product design and development teams at SAP are putting people and collaboration at the core of business applications. These are interesting and changing times. Stay tuned.

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