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Not all innovations are technical, actually one of the most fascinating ones, at least to me, you can witness right now at TechEd: The blue rugby shirts that the SAP Mentors are wearing.

SAP Mentor rugby shirt

They worked so well two weeks ago in Phoenix, that we had to print SAP Mentor cards, to hand out, because we got asked “What is a mentor?” all the time.

SAP Mentor Card given out at SAP TechEd 2009 Vienna

If you read closely, you realize that we have a new short URL: http://sapmentors.sap.com Go there for a lot more information about the initiative.

My favorite quote this year is from Seth Godin who wrote in his book Tribes: “Most companies market to the crowd. Smart companies assemble a tribe.” For SAP that tribe is the friendly SAP Mentor wolf pack, including howling at larger gatherings 😉

We try to give the SAP Mentors something special as a little token of appreciation for all the things that they are doing for the SAP community all year. The frustration for many of them was, that not enough people in the SAP ecosystem know about SAP Mentors yet.

My idea was therefore to give all of them an extra special shirt that draws the attention to the initiative as well as the individual SAP Mentor. One day I saw these retro Ralf Lauren rugby shirts and it clicked.

As we are still below 100 SAP Mentors we were able to give every one of them their own number and why stop there, let’s put their name or what they would like to have on their back too.

A special thank you goes out to Allister and Lisa from Jump productions, the people that are also running the SAP Shop. It is really tough to create individual shirts and get it all right. They were very engaged, even managed to create @ sign, so that folks could spell out their Twitter handle on their shirts (@ as the sign of the times). I love Ginger’s selection: BuyTheBook, referring to the updated The SAP Business Workflow Community- Exemplifies Community book that she was spearheading. By the way all proceeds from the sale go to Doctors without Borders. Bravo!

I was convinced that people will like the shirt, but I didn’t expect how well they would work. For example last night Timo Elliott came up to me, introduced himself and said: “I saw your name from across the room and I had to come and say hello.” – If you are at TechEd, please don’t be shy and walk up to any of us SAP Mentors, we are happy to talk, engage, show you where the restrooms are ;-).

SAP Mentor Matthias Zeller told me, that the shirts really helped him to get to know his fellow mentors: “Yes you know their names, but you were not necessarily able to put names and faces together, now you bump into them all the time at sessions and in the clubhouse.”

If you are at TechEd, you can check out how well the blue shirts work for yourself. Just walk up to the clubhouse any hour of the day, and you will see with one glance SAP Mentors engaged in conversations, giving a networking session or throwing a rugby ball. Once your brain is tuned, you will see the blue shirts everywhere, even though there are only 33 of us at TechEd in Vienna.

It fascinates me endlessly, how a non technical innovation is making such a difference.

As the French say: “Allez les bleus!”

P.S. We know that there were blue shirts before us http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Shirts

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5 Comments

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  1. Srini Tanikella
    First, Let me say that the SAP Mentors program is a great initiative – The SAP community as a whole benefits by this program. Coming  to the shirts, I’ve got stories on it, both funny and strange. Only a blog will do justice…Srini
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    1. Mark Finnern Post author
      Hi Andrea,

      We got already complains that we are all looking alike now on Twitter, as most have changed their picture to the new SAP Mentor one with the shirts. 

      Best, Mark.

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  2. Krishnakumar Ramamoorthy
    Good idea on the Mentor Cards. For those of us who browse or in SDN day in and day out, its easy to correlate who Mentors are and what they do but there  were some folks in our group who didn’t know what they were up to.
    KK
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