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Humour@SAP: VI. Managing Your Boss or The Spooky Golf Course

There is an old SAP story that Hasso likes to tell new employees about the spirit of SAP and how they shall pursue their goals. Back in the old times when R/2 was still around and the main product of SAP, several SAP folks were convinced that there is the need of a programming language that supports the development of business applications. Remember: that was the time when assembler was still THE language that brought the thrills to programmers and something called SQL was the new kid on the block.

The SAP folks started to work on a programming language in a research project. After the first running prototype was ready, they went to Hasso Plattner to give him a first glimpse of the new language. But before they could go to Hasso, they had to name the beast. Several rounds of brainstorming brought variations that luckily for us never left the room. Or what would you say to a name of a programming called C-pepper, or Hot coffee? Nobody would really take such a programming language seriously.

So the respectable name was ABAP, the Advanced Business Application Programming language. You can see that SAP was still immature: not a three letter acronym (TLA) but a four letter acronym. Who can remember this unprofessionalism? But SAP soon became more americanized and continues to confuse the customers successfully with a myriad of TLAs, like R/3, CRM, SRM, SLM, PLM, CIA, UNO and so on (ok, ok, the last two I made up. Just wanted to test your attention span…)

Hasso was – mildly speaking – not very much pleased with the idea of an SAP proprietary programming language. So he asked the developers to stop the project and focus on really important stuff. But SAP folks are stubborn, especially the german breed of them. Whatever you say, they know it better. And often – frustratingly enough – they are right. So those folks let Hasso speak, listened politely, nodded in agreement and – continued with their ABAP-project.

This happened another two times, until Hasso waved the white flag and had to admit that the world needs ABAP.

To make a long story short: Hasso used this example to encourage new SAP employees to pursue their ideas. When they are sure that their idea is right for the company, then they shall not give in, even if their manager tells them to stop. Now you know why SAP folks never stop trying to talk and convince you when you meet them.

Here is a story, which shows that Hasso, although he was the boss, was managed by his own employees. And it was his own “fault”, as he encouraged them to do so…

Hasso Plattner and Dietmar Hopp relax on the golf-course in Rot, which is a little village close to the very Walldorf, where SAP’s headquarter is located. The weather is fine, the round is good, both enjoy their game.
A call on the cell phone interrupts their fun. On the phone is Harald Kuck, an employee with long experience in the SAP Basis development. Some decisions have to be made, that’s why Harald bothers Hasso. They discuss several issues, Hasso makes suggestions and gives recommendations, but Harald questions them. Harald not only questions them, but brings all counter-arguments on the table.

Hasso’s getting more and more upset the longer the call goes on, but Harald keeps contradicting and opposing. Dietmar looks already for the tenth time at his watch, urging Hasso to continue with their game. The golfers behind them are getting impatient, raising their voices more and more (if you’ve ever driven on a german Autobahn on the left lane not fast enough – and there is always at least one car that is faster than you, no matter how low you fly – then you know what this means). After some of those glances and encouraging hints from the back, Hasso takes the phone and – drops it in this nice little lake of the golf course. All the while you can hear Harald talking on the phone, slowly transforming into a more and more gurgling noise.

Since then couples passing in romantic nights close to the lake still report hearing voices coming out of the deep water. But this cannot be, all the spookiness lays already in the ABAP language…

More anecdotes can be found in the Humour@SAP weblog series.

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  • Hey Mario!
    I find very funny this series of weblogs, honestly!

    BTW, I've gone crazy searching part no. five. Is it like "Leisure Suit Larry 4: the missing floppies"


    Keep up!

    • Thanks, good to hear that you like it 😉
      Yes, number V was censored, some colleagues felt offended. Humour is something always difficult. One rolls on the floor and cannot stop lauging and others shake the head about the stupidity.
      But I can send you the text per email, just send me a mail to my address (structure: firstname.lastname and then


      • So is funny number VII about censorship? 🙂

        Really I hope that don't censor to many these are great and give a more human touch to SAP !!


        • To give some justification to it: the V. weblog of this series dealt with a delicate topic, where as a European I might have a different attitude toward it and which seems to be significantly different in other parts of the world. Although I thought it was still OK, but unfortunately some felt offended.
          To rewrite the blog was not acceptable from my side, as I found the text complete and a change would take the spice out of it. So we decided for now to put it back to draft, which means it is not visible.
          The humorous-weblog series shall make people smile and give them a friendly insight to SAP and not make people feel offended.

          I appreciate any feedback, as in an international community many things are cultural issues that I might not be aware of.


          • Hi Mario,
            Ah yes, now I remember the "missing" weblog: I just received an automatic mail from SDN (Digest of recommended articles) which mentions the fifth part or the heptalogy? octalogy? icosalogy? 🙂
            (Sorry for my Star-Wars-language, but I cannot wait till next 19th May!)

            I personally found it OK, I mean, non-offending. Anyway keep up the good work!
            (BTW, this blog is still available from my digest-mail and from MyBlogs-beta)