Necessity, Scotch Tape, Rubberbands (or how innovation accelerates)
We have a great product at home that we simply add to our dogs’ water and it keeps their breath smelling fresh and tartar build-up at bay. (See Oxyfresh.com if you are curious about the product – but that’s not what I’m here about.) The problem was that no one was adding the Oxyfresh to the dog’s water. Seems it was too much trouble for 18, 15, 12 and 9 year olds to stop daily in the midst of texting to do that. So I grabbed an empty gallon Gatorade jug filled it with water and a tablespoon of the solution and set that next to the dog dishes. I explained to my not-so-attentive stewards that all they needed to do was fill that bottle a couple times a week. Success. The dogs got their oxy-infused water . . .until the bottle was empty. So I asked my lazy flock – why couldn’t one of you fill up the water bottle for the dogs? “Well,” they said, “we didn’t know how.” I explained again – add one tablespoon of the Oxyfresh to the jug of water. How hard is that? “I don’t know what a tablespoon is,” one complained. ‘I couldn’t find the measuring spoon,” another whined. REALLY? So I taped a tablespoon to the bottle – and said “Here it is. Now you’ll always know where to find it.”
That’s something how the conversation went with Prashanth Padmanabhan and Eduardo Salamanca de deigo, in September of 2010 when we they first came to my team with an idea for managing one’s own internal company career with a new application. In the next 6 months, SAP will release the result of these discussions with a product known as Career OnDemand.
As SAP began to work with us on the design, we recorded our discussions in SAP StreamWork, to further enhance collaboration efforts. Looking back on those notes today, the outline of the solution as you will see it delivered is very different from the first iteration. The product shaped itself as SAP’s innovation team worked together across countries and across time zones to further develop individual features of the product – goal setting, goal sharing and cascading, information sharing, informal and formal learning, mid-year reviews, career development, tying pay to performance and more. Each time the SAP team had a new wireframe ready, we would look at the solution again, poke holes in it, tell the developers why it wouldn’t work and, therefore, challenge the developers to make it work. Many times we had to challenge ourselves to think differently. We described our current processes, what was good about the current process, what was bad.
What SAP responded with was beyond my imagination. They developed a system that looks nothing like the performance enhancement systems any of us are used to using. I mean this product is Human-Resource-Management-altering in the way that the iPod altered forever the way we consume media.
Career onDemand puts the employee in the driver seat. I like to refer to the product as a “living appraisal” in which goals, progress towards goals and personal development are shared through regular interaction between employee and manager and between employee and colleagues. With Career onDemand, the presentation of the performance enhancement process feels like a social networking tool. It is geared towards a generation that is rapidly moving, that is perhaps learning more in informal environments than in formal institutions, that sees processes in abbreviated timelines, that collaborates globally and not typically face-to-face.
Career onDemand meets a changing workforce’s needs. It better enables global collaboration. It place more control over one’s career in one’s own hands. As a SAAS product, it can stand alone or integrate with your existing SAP HCM solution. It’s pure genius. It is as good as or better than my management of the dogs’ Oxyfresh-infused water. Probably better, actually. I still haven’t convinced the parties in my household to fill that water jug. But I have a new collaborator. My better half saw that the tape that held the spoon to the bottle was wearing out, so he modified my design to use a rubber band around the bottle to hold the spoon in place. Now if I could just remember where we put the bottle of Oxyfresh….