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Author's profile photo Mark Finnern

Be an SAP Mentor starting this Fall

Link: Nominate SAP Mentors Fall 2012

sap mentors engaged 2012.jpg“Calling the crazy ones. The misfits. The troublemakers, …” we can almost recite Apple’s whole Think Different Campaign. Isn’t it the defining commercial of the last 15 years, at least in the tech world? Amazing that Steve Jobs and team were able to do it two times, after all the commercial of the last century was the 1984 Macintosh commercial created by Ridley Scott.

Watching the ad through the glasses of the SAP Mentor initiative, we tongue in cheek call ourselves the Wolfpack, the ones that see things differently, that push SAP to be the best they/we can be. SAP Mentor Jarred Pazahanick even listed 12 SAP Troublemakers in a blog post and 11 of them are SAP Mentors. I commented:

Love your list as 11 of the 12 are SAP Mentors 🙂 I would call them constructive criticizers. I understand that this wouldn’t work as well as a headline 😉 Trouble often implies up to no good, but the opposite is true for constructive criticism. They see a problem and point to a solution. What constructive criticism does is keeping us at SAP on our toes. It is an early warning system for us to pay attention to. It often hurts when we get it, but is a big benefit for SAP in the long run. …

We are making a difference as recently acknowledged by Vishal Sikka on the keynote stage at Sapphire 2012 [it is towards the end of his talk]. I paraphrase: Free click-through developer licenses was pushed majorly by the SAP Mentors.

Doug Engelbart once got asked whether it doesn’t make him happy that his invention of the mouse is on every computer desk. His reply was: Not if I think of where we could be. He was thinking of his dream of computers really helping us making better decisions collaboratively and we are only slowly getting there. Of course SAP Mentor initiative is not even in the same league of what Doug Engelbart invented. We are proud of what we have accomplished, but we are far from where we could be.

SAP Mentor Graham Robinson just this week answered a question asked by fellow mentor Marilyn Pratt in the private SAP Mentor forum: How to describe the value of being an Industry Mentor. She asked this question as it was surprisingly hard to convince SAP folks focusing on business solutions to join the SAP Mentor Wolfpack. [thanks Graham’s for allowing me to share your reply]

Last year I wrote a blog titled How Cool is SCN. But this blog only provided one perspective. SCN also Sucks!

SCN Sucks because we do not have anything like the engagement of the “Function Guys And Gals” (FGAGs) that we should. If we look at the SAP ecosystem the FGAGs outnumber the techies by a significant order of magnitude. In fact as the techies work for the business, and they are closer to the business that the techies, the techies actually work for them. We install, upgrade and maintain system for them. We design and develop stuff at their direction.

So where are they? If SCN can attract over 2 million users without them – there has to be 10 or 20 million we have missed. Clearly SCN does not provide the platform they are looking for to engage, collaborate, educate and be educated, etc. It works for the techies (mainly) but it doesn’t work for the functional consultant. Perhaps thoughtlessly considered acronyms like FGAGs is the sort of thing that turns them off? Quite frankly we just don’t get what they do partly because we are thoughtless and a little too wrapped up in our techie world.

I strongly believe we need them. And we need them now! They give our careers purpose and direction – because we work for them. We need them here and we need them engaged so they can help us engage with them – because we are terrible at that.

Thanks Graham for interrupting your vacation to share your insights. We are missing other voices too:  customers, women, voices from all the far regions where SAP software is implemented, many products and solutions are also not covered good enough. 

We all are missing out on the insights and passion of the mentors out there that we have not officially made SAP Mentors yet.

As a potential new mentor you may ask yourself, I am already busy, why would I add this to my stack?

Back to Graham:

So – what about the value of you being an Industry Mentor? Well for one you get it and we don’t. So you are in a unique position to change SCN for the better. To help build the online community that addresses your needs, that attracts your peers, that reflects you. It is a great opportunity to remake SCN into what it should be which is a true reflection of the entire SAP Community. Isn’t that what diversity is all about? Maybe SCN isn’t the place for the functional people to congregate – maybe there is a more appropriate place and method for building your community? Again this is a great opportunity to step up and help get this right.

Oh, and by the way, the specific benefits of being an SAP Mentor. It’s the people. The people you meet who are also Mentors, the people who want to meet you because you are a Mentor, and the people you meet because you are a Mentor. It’s the people – that is all.

Exactly, you will have the privilege to engage with some of the smartest and most passionate people you have ever met. You will be able to learn from their interactions and understand where they are struggling. It will enormously improve the overall picture you can have of the vast product and solutions that SAP is offering.

Please enrich all of us and nominate the next SAP Mentors. If there is a mentor of yours in the SAP space, please nominate them and we are happy to give them a bigger megaphone to mentor more people especially product folks within SAP.

You may have to nudge them a bit. Please do so. It is OK to nominate yourself, but it counts slightly more if someone else nominates you.

We will announce the new SAP Mentors mid August to hopefully welcome many of them in person during the SAP TechEd season.

* SAP Mentors engaged at ASUG Annual Conference and SapphireNow Orlando 2012 during Daily SAP Mentor Wrap-Up Picture by Martin Gillet

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