This is the beginning of a lot of things. It’s the beginning of our implementation of SAP. It’s the beginning of a mind expanding (not crushing, I hope) technical adventure. And, it’s the beginning of the “Off the Cow Paths” blog. Hang in there with me. You’ll get it in just a bit.
The public agency I work for chose SAP after an exhaustive eighteen-month RFP process. This effort was named “The Agency Wide Systems Management (AWSM) Project.” We pronounce that “awesome”.
Those of us on the AWSM team received our SAP01 Overview training a few weeks ago. I sat towards the back of the room and noticed that people’s heads we’re shaking. Some up and down and some side to side. The message this kinetic exhibition was trying to communicate was either, “Yep, that’s the way we do it”, or “Nope, you’ll never catch us doing stuff like that.”
Switch to 5000 feet above Boston. Note the twisty, seemingly organic layout of the streets, coming together at strange and inconsistent angles, taking meandering curves here and there. Talk to Bostonians and they tell you that the street design – or lack thereof – resulted from streets following the well worn paths developed from it’s agrarian past. You know, “Moooo”. Boston, sophisticated and charming as it is, will never have an efficient transportation system because the street layout is based on cow paths.
Those heads shaking vertically or horizontally were doing so because they felt comfortable when the instructor seemed to validate their particular well worn path.
Now look at Chicago. It’s encounter with cows and urban planning was somewhat more drastic, but, after the fire was put out, the results were splendid. Almost all the streets run north and south. The blocks are consistent in length throughout the city. You can go anywhere on a bus and not get lost.
In designing our new systems with SAP, we must resist the comfortable call of the cow path. We certainly could use the tools included in SAP to recreate our legacy system. What a tragedy it would be to do so. Instead we must question everything. No matter how convinced we are that they way we do it is “absolute truth”, we should consider the alternatives. It’s not often in the history of an organization that you have the opportunity to change everything.
The purpose of this blog will be to share the AWSM off-the-cow-path experiences and to encourage others to do the same. The great advantage of being a beginner is that you don’t know that what you “can’t possible do!”
What have you done in your project that has broken new ground? If you haven’t had the experience yet, then, go ahead, kick over the lantern and feel the warmth of the cleansing flames. I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.