Saturday, April 30, 2011

Interesting Companies In The Performance Improvement Area

My research interest is in the area of  on-going performance improvement of employees. I think about how can a person best improve his or her performance on an on-going basis for the benefit of the employer's short term business goals and the employee's long term career goals. I have been researching the area for a while. So are several other innovative people. These are some companies I admire for their innovative thinking.

1. Rypple
Rypple focuses on coaching and feedback to improve performance.

2. WorkSimple
Worksimple makes goals social. They explain their approach very well here.

3. Sonar6
Sonar6 focuses on performance appraisal.

Do you admire other innovative companies in the employee performance improvement area? If yes, could you please leave a comment. Thanks.

Dos Equis Direct

Last Friday I was talking to my manager David Ludlow, who the head of HCM Solution management. I asked him why companies still send out paper pay checks to employees. He mentioned some interesting facts about paper checks.

Some employees do not want direct deposit, especially for overtime and special shift pay. This is because they give the regular pay check to their wives and use the extra money for recreation such as beer.

I thought this was a great scenario for people centric thinking. Taking that overtime paycheck and going to the bar with friends is a perfectly plausible scenario. I thought how about directly depositing a portion of your paycheck into a separate bank account that your wife does not know. This feature ought to be very popular with at least 50% of the workforce.

I am going to pitch this project to my colleagues in development. Since many of them are Germans and Hungarians, I am pretty confident they will understand. I even have a code name the project. 'Dos Equis Direct'.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Using Minds Maps To Plan Your Next Presentation

I use minds maps to plan my presentations, review them with colleagues and rehearse my presentations. They are easily the most efficient way to plan your story, even if you finally show a series of slides using PowerPoint. I found a simple video recently that explains the concepts very well. The tool I use is MindJet.

The Cluetrain Manifesto

I am reading the cluetrain manifesto second edition released on its 10th anniversary. The main message, which I have posted below, is very relevant even today for everyone in the enterprise software ecosystem.

The Message
Intranets are enabling your best people to hyperlink themselves together, outside the org chart. They're incredibly productive and innovative. They're telling one another the truth, in very human voices.

There is a new conversation between and among your market and your workers. It's making them smarter and it's enabling them to discover their human voices. You have two choices. You can continue to lock yourself behind facile corporate words and happy talk brochures. Or you can join the conversation.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I started reading the book Gamestorming by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and James Macanufo. I learned many of these things from my colleagues and by performing it on the job. It is good to go back to the theory and understand why I do some of the things I do.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Getting From College To Career

As part of our research for Career OnDemand, my colleagues spoke to Lindsey Pollak, an expert on Generation Y or the millennial generation. She is an author, speaker and consultant. Lindsey's insight into the millennial generation helped shape our thinking on Career OnDemand.

Last week Lindsey was kind enough to send me her book "Getting from College to Career". In the book she talks about 90 things to do before a college student joins the real world. A very good guide for college students and young professionals. Even though the book is aimed at college students, there are many simple tips that are useful for any professional. I enjoyed reading the book.

Here is a short video where she talks about the millennial generation.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Description of Design Thinking

The authors of the book, The Dragonfly Effect, provide a very clear description of what design thinking is.

Design thinking is a way to create things that are better for people who ultimately use them. Design thinking encourages a human-centric orientation, hypothesis testing and frequent rapid prototyping, in collaboration with the people who are affected by the resulting work.

The definition is based on the book, Change By Design, by Tim Brown
If the description interests you, you may like Tim Brown's talk on TED

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Dragonfly Effect

Reading The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith. Jennifer, who is a professor at Stanford, has written this book based on a course she teaches at Stanford.

I was curious about this book because it talks about design thinking and social media in the same book.

It has two interesting flow charts. One for design thinking and another for people who want to get started on Twitter. They make sense to me because I am a practitioner of the design thinking process and a regular twitter user. I am not sure if a flow chart will make a lot of sense for someone who is starting out. I am always wary of people stripping things down to a flow chart. But, I am going to read the book with an open mind.

People Centric, Collaboration In Context and Mobile First

I am working with several brilliant colleagues on the next generation of people management applications at SAP. After talking to hundreds of people, and tens of thought leaders and customers we have distilled out principles for the next generation of people managements apps to three things.
  • People Centric
  • Networking and Collaboration in context
  • Insight Everywhere
  • Mobile First
People centric thinking puts the person first and process next. We realized that, but for some special cases, meeting the needs of a person and providing instant value for a person is more important than ensuring the integrity of a process. While we will strive to ensure the integrity of all processes, we will address the needs of the person first and make our tools useful for the person and make it work the way they work, when they want it and where they want it.

Collaboration In Context brings collaboration to the context of the person rather than ask the person to take the context to a separate collaboration space. We decided to bring the most appropriate collaboration tools to the context of the work as and when required.

Mobile first: As part of our research we learned than it is matter of a couple of years before majority of access to business software will be from mobile devices. So we start our design process now-a-days by thinking mobile first. 

If you like our thinking and would like to join us in Palo Alto, please let us know. We are looking for people like you. Let's build disruptive people management tools for the idea driven economy.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Opportunity To Design A Disruptive OnDemand HCM Suite

I have been blessed with a job that I love. I work with people who make me smarter everyday and work from a location that is anything but ordinary.

I work from Hill View Avenue in Palo Alto, California, where disruptive and innovative companies such asVMWare, Xerox PARC, Better Place and Tesla Motors have their offices. Once in a while I go for a walk in their campuses just to breath the same air as the smart people in those companies. I tell myself that this is the street where the Ethernet, The Graphical User Interface and the Laser Printer were invented. This is probably the street where the foundations of the next electric car, its charging network and cloud computing infrastructure will be laid.

My day usually starts at 7 am. I work from home early in the morning working with my product management colleagues in Walldorf, Germany and Budapest, Hungary. Every one of those colleagues, at some point, managed products that brought millions of dollars in revenue for SAP. While they are keen to listen to my ideas, they also bring a world view that includes knowledge about European and Asian markets, the ground realities and opportunities.

When I walk into the office I go a building where David Ludlow, who started the HCM product management function at SAP and built the more than 12000 SAP HCM customers, works from. For more than four years I have had the privilege of walking into David's office anytime and talk about all things HCM and learn from his vast experience. Near David's office is Nicholas Cumins's office. Nicholas heads strategic product management for SAP's OnDemand solutions. I have had many interesting and productive conversations with Nicholas, several of them informal hallway conversations, about OnDemand products, the market opportunities, the challenges and strategy.

Mike Tschudy, a huge proponent of design thinking and the head of the product design team for OnDemand solutions, is right next to David's office. I run into Mike several times a week where we discuss how to put the person first, put collaboration at the core and think mobile first when it comes to product design. Mike always pushes me to think about the complete customers experience and shares his vast knowledge gained from his past experience working at Apple and eBay.

Enric Gili Fort, a product management colleague and an industrial designer like me, sits a few yards away. Enric designed many parts of the Career OnDemand product. For many months Enric and I spent most of our afternoons in work sessions designing and building simple prototypes that captured the needs and wants of the people in organizations. Enric and I share the "Less Is More" and the Best Interface Is No Interface" philosophies and are determined to ensure that the next generation of OnDemand products from SAP reflect that belief.

Right next to me there is Steven Kim, who is responsible for the Sourcing OnDemand product. Steven sometimes walks over, look at my Storyboards on the wall and gives me tips about how the HCM OnDemand team can use some of the techniques he is using for Sourcing.

Nital Vora, who designed many components, including some iPad and iPhone versions, of the the Sales OnDemand product sits a few yards away. When I have a question or want to bounce an idea of someone who has done it before I walk over to him and chat with him.

John Wookey, the head of all OnDemand products for large enterprises, also works from the same building. On regular intervals John visits our project rooms to look at the work, where he always insists on building people centric products to disrupt the enterprise software market. John is a product person at heart and says that any day spent thinking about and discussing the product is a good day.

My typical day may involve talking to an Analyst to verify our ideas, work sessions with customers to understand the market fit of our hypothesis, design thinking session with colleagues and thought leaders, intense work sessions with colleagues who question everything from the value proposition to viability of our products, creating a storyboard to capture and convey my ideas to colleagues, building a quick prototype using Axure to show a concept  to customers. I also make it a point to walk over to the campus library at least twice a week to get away from the daily routine and look for new books and ideas. The friendly librarian orders any book I ask for. It is also an excuse to go over to Building 1, where Chef Jaspal from Bon Appetit, cooks Indian food twice a week.

The work we do is normally posted on the walls of our product design rooms and even on the walls in our work area. The work is visible, open for discussion and feedback. The environment I work in does not let me get lazy with my ideas or design. It brings our the best in me. Like any organization, there are challenges at SAP. But I consider this a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to disrupt the people management software area.

If you like what I do and have the skills, experience and inclination to disrupt the people management software market, please come and talk to us. We are looking for people like you.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...