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Folks, I’ve been honored by Marilyn Pratt blogging it forward to me and also been given an opportunity to explore the subject of Empathy and to answer some personal questions. Let’s start with the easy part.

Introduction

My name is Jelena Perfiljeva and it was designed specifically to ward off the annoying telemarketers (“Miss… err… Bur-ba-jeeva? – Nope! [click] ”). For the restaurant reservations I usually go by Smith or Jones, although it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep track of my multiple personalities.

Currently I reside in the US and work as an SAP Technical Analyst for one of the few companies that still do manufacturing here. My SAP career started about 7 years ago purely by accident. One person left the internal SAP team and I was thrown into the mix right in the middle of our first SAP roll-out. I was very fortunate to have excellent mentors help me learn ABAP and SAP ins and outs and can only hope to be a match to their generosity in sharing the wealth of knowledge.

pic.JPGWhat was your dream job as a kid?

Growing up in a totalitarian and largely male-dominated society (despite the claims of otherwise), little girls were allowed to dream about only two professions: a teacher or a doctor. Faced with such choice, I had to go with the doctor because somehow dealing with bloody wounds and corpses seemed more appealing than dealing with school-age kids and their parents.

I went with the “doctor legend” for most of the school. One thing I really liked about the doctors though was their pure, clean white coats. So when years later my school friend’s older sister got a job at a Computing Center (mind you, this were the pre-dawn times for PC) and showed up in a crisp white lab coat, I instantly knew I needed to get in on this. I was not a doctor anymore – I was a “computer person”.

(Exhibit A is a picture from my first student ID – smiling on camera was not appropriate for the “future builders of communism”.)

What is your favorite place in the world?

It’s my home! Preferably by TV or a computer with a cup of Darjeeling tea.

Describe an instance when empathy in a project, development, collaboration, work experience, or community interaction turned a situation around (or should have).

Aaah, what an excellent question. Let me tell you – women know the whole lot about empathy. Just to give you one real life example – some freeways in the US have such poorly designed entrance ramps that the drivers merging into a freeway simply don’t have enough space to accelerate and have to be at mercy of other drivers to let them in. So imagine I’m behind the wheel on such an entrance ramp in a rush hour and another driver is just not willing to let me merge. If my passenger was another woman, our dialogue would be something like that:

Me: – Did you see how that jerk didn’t let me merge?!

Another woman: – Oh my gosh, what a total jerk!

End of subject, we drive happily into the sunset. Now imagine my husband is a passenger:

Me: – Did you see how that jerk didn’t let me merge?!

Husband (H): – Well, he had right of way…

Me: – But can’t he see that the merge lane is ending?

H: – He doesn’t have to slow down to let you in…

Me: – How can you defend him? Are you with me or with him?

H: – How do you even know it’s “him”, maybe it’s a woman?

Me: – WHAAAAT?!!!

<conversation is followed by a long heated discussion about the genderal driving habits>

And this is just one of examples that shows how sometimes just a bit of empathy goes a long way.

But back to Marilyn’s question. Come to think of it, the whole SCN is actually built on empathy. We show our empathy every day by sharing our knowledge, our thoughts and ideas, by answering forum questions from people we don’t know. I hope we can get our Coffee Corner back soon – I can really relate to the personal stories we used to share there.

As we saw, our community is also perfectly capable to empathize when things don’t go well with the SCN migration (Oliver Kohl’s blog is just one such example). Most of the SCN users are probably IT professionals, so I think we can easily relate to the SCN team’s struggles.

But since the migration to New SCN occurred, I can’t shake off the feeling that somehow The People in Charge of SCN (TPCSCN) really have little empathy towards the “file and rank” SCN users.

For example, here’s my brief version of the virtual dialogue that occurred shortly after migration between TPCSCN and users:

TPCSCN: We have better, faster SCN!

Users: We can’t login and it’s slow…

TPCSCN: But don’t you see the new shiny buttons? And almost everything almost sometimes works!

Users: Nothing works…

TPCSCN: You are being negative! You need to prove your words by doing extensive analysis and presenting it to us in a way we can understand.

Users: Here and here is a poll that shows that majority doesn’t like the new site and forums. Here is a pie chart based on our research in Twitter.

TPCSCN: Ahem… ahem… Good job, you, that’s what we need. Now carry on and get used to the new web site.

Users: But…

TPCSCN: No more whining!

Is it just me or did it look pretty much like infamous George Bush’s Mission Accomplished banner?

OK, and here is my “empathized” version of what could’ve occurred:

TPCSCN: Look, we wanted to make SCN a better web site, but the project kind of went FUBAR. We’re working on this though, so hang on there, OK?

Users: OK. Can we help?

… and we drive happily into the sunset.

Empathy is not always a two-way street. It’s not the “you scratch mine and I scratch yours” kind of thing. One does not have to empathize, just as one doesn’t have to facilitate others merging onto the freeway. We can only choose to empathize ourselves and we can only hope that we communicate in a way that might prompt empathy in others. I hope we can all together make New SCN our new home that we can love even more than the old one.

In conclusion, I’d like to blog it forward to Otto Gold and Thomas Zloch and ask them to kindly answer one or more of the same questions above plus one “surprise” question they would ask themselves.

Update 9/20/13 – I’d like to also blog it forward to Steffi Warnecke with the same questions. Go Steffi!

Thank you!

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36 Comments

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  1. Thomas Zloch

    A great read, like most if not all of your posts on SCN. Good to have you here before and after the migration.

    The only downside is that you created work for me. I have never blogged on SCN, plesae give me a week or so… 😉

    Cheers

    Thomas

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  2. Marilyn Pratt

    With your guidance, goading, governing, I too, know (not just hope) that

    we can all together make New SCN our new home that we can love even more than the old one.

    I love your forum voice Jelena and even more appreciate your powerful blogging voice here.

    Would love it if you enhanced your blog profile with a today picture….and hopefully once transplanted to the west of your exhibit “A” photo you now have a beatific smile to share because your contents put a huge smile on my face.  You have humor, intelligence and wit.  Thank you so much for sharing them. I love your blog it forward choices…two additional heroes of mine: Otto Gold and Thomas Zloch.  I’ll be naughty and add an third Anton Wenzelhuemer . He was a real thought champ and provocateur in the late great coffee  corner.  While I didn’t always agree with his “means” , he never failed to engage my thinking.  And I believe he is secretly empathetic. 😉

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  3. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

    Thank you very much, everyone, for your comments and kind words. This just shows once again that it’s the people, not the web site, that make our community B.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l. 🙂

    Thomas – sorry for trouble but hey, this makes two of us. I’ve never had a blog on the old site either and boy, was I glad when all those migration issues popped up! 🙂

    Marilyn – thank you for your support and for being the voice of reason among all the pretence. I wanted to add Julius von dem Bussche too but someone already “got” him. I’ve seen others jumping on the BIF wagon themselves, so if anyone is reading this and feels like joining the movement – by all means, please feel free to invite yourself.

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  4. Vinod Kumar

    Hi Jelena,

    Thanks for this excellent post.  Happy to see you back in ABAP development space with expert comments on SD/MM related ABAP questions 🙂 .

    Regards, Vinod

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  5. Audrey Stevenson

    Hi Jelena,

    You’ve given me a lot to think about as I try to draft my own BIF post.

    I must +1 Marilyn’s thoughts that it would be so nice to put a face to a name–any chance you will upload a profile photo?

    –Audrey

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  6. Typewriter TW

    Jelena,

    As I can not send you a Direct Message, I am writing here…

    Thank you for your contribution in SCN!

    Your posts have been enjoyable, funny and sometimes* full of learning (*because you contribute posts in many forums, I can learnt – usually – from your SD posts).

    Wish you the best in 2013!

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thank you and Happy 2013 to you and your family too!

      Apparently the direct messages on SCN can only be sent when two users both ‘follow’ each other. This does make some sense, but sometimes I wish it worked differently.

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  7. G Lakshmipathi

    Hi Jelena Perfiljeva

    How come I missed this blog 😕 ?  No doubt, you are one of the top most members giving quallity suggestions in various forums and through this blog, we come to know more about you.

    The most interesting part what I noticed from your comments is that you work for some manufacturing industry which is very rare to find.  Now I can conclude that with that industry exposure only, you have been contributing with high standards 😆 .  There is a huge difference between consultants starting their career directly as an IT professional and the consultants who came from manufacturing where you have to tackle almost all critical and challenging issues and later entered into SAP world.  

    Needless to mention, my predominent experience is also from a manufacturing industry 🙂

    Regards

    G. Lakshmipathi

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thank you for the kind words, I appreciate it.

      Yes, manufacturing is a rather challenging industry on many levels. Unfortunately, sometimes it feels that applicable R3 functionality is like an unloved child of SAP. There are lose ends everywhere (phantom assemblies in a planned order, anyone?) and little transparency along the “touchpoints” with other modules (e.g. SD). But it has been a great learning opportunity, so I’m trying to look at the bright side. 🙂

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  8. Natascha Thomson

    Jelena:

    LOL. Great picture and I totally agree on the empathy.

    Barbara Annis, a world-renowned gender expert spoke at SAP in Palo Alto last year and pointed out that women have a connection between both sides of the brain that is very strong vs. men, where empathy and other thinking are more separate :-).

    Appreciate your humor. You seem like a genuine women, a power woman, who is also fun and kind.

    Best,

    Natascha

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  9. Steffi Warnecke

    Hello Jelena,

    I just saw your BIF pop up in my activity queue and I’m really glad it did, because otherwise I would have missed this great blog. 🙂

    Your way of writing and expressing yourself is right down my alley and we’ve already acknowledged, that we share a view on some stuff. ^^

    I had a lot of fun reading this, because it made me smile (and grin) and think at the same time.

    Being born in Eastern Germany at such a late time, that I had the fortune of having choices and not “choices”, so what you described is something I tend to think about every few years, just to make me realise again, how lucky I am.

    I’m glad you had the chance of really doing what you want, not what is assigned to you by a plan. Even if it just started by love for the clothes (are you still wearing white coats? 😀 )!

    IMO empathy is a big part of my sucess in my job and why I have friends. *g* So I can absolutly understand, what you explained.

    And this paragraph

    My name is Jelena Perfiljeva and it was designed specifically to ward off the annoying telemarketers (“Miss… err… Bur-ba-jeeva? – Nope! [click] ”). For the restaurant reservations I usually go by Smith or Jones, although it’s getting increasingly difficult to keep track of my multiple personalities.

    was just awesome!

    Keep on rocking!

    Regards,

    Steffi.

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        1. Lukas Weigelt

          Even ol’ lil’ Social-Network-Hater Lukas gave BIF a try 😛 , it’s not like there’s a benchmark for the amount of info you share with the community..and more importantly, defying the great Thomas Zloch? The Outrage! :O

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Steffi, thank you so much for the comment! I wish we still had the white lab coats, but I’m also happy with my new uniform of jeans and random shirts.

      I don’t believe even for a moment that you’re a slightest bit less interesting than any other BIFers (or any other human being, actually). The only difference between you and me is that you’re more considerate of others and I just blurt out stuff without thinking much whether someone will actually find it interesting or not. 🙂

      As a matter of fact, I’ll just go ahead and edit my blog now to add you to the “chain” officially. And don’t even think about bailing out, ’cause we’ll be watching!

      Thanks again and I’m really looking forward to reading your BIF entry.

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      1. Steffi Warnecke

        Thank you for officially putting me into the BIF-chain. ^^

        I’m also one for the shirt/jeans-uniform, although I love to suit up from time to time. It’s always great to have the choice to dress up for the mood. 🙂

        The only difference between you and me is that you’re more considerate of others and I just blurt out stuff without thinking much whether someone will actually find it interesting or not.

                           

        If you could ask my friends… 😀 And even at work I try to explain certain things to users and colleagues and believe me, most of the time they are so not interested. 😀

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        1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

          <empathy on> They’re ignorant, honey, completely ignorant. 🙂 Well, from experience I can only say that the most boring gathering gets exciting when there is chocolate involved. 😉

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  10. Roberto Vidotti

    HA, HA, HA,

    great blog Mrs Jones 😀 😘 , it’s always a pleasure to read your blogs.

    If you lose your job (hope no), you can always find another one as a writer and comedy actress 😉 , but please don’t send this photo 😆

    Best regards

         Roberto

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  11. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Jelena,

    Wonderful blog and I liked the way you have express your thoughts 🙂

    Keep sharing more things in SCN!

    We are glad to read more and more!

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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  12. ' MoazzaM '

    Hi Jelena

    29 August 2012 and I am seeing this today accidentally 😛

    Well I must say that know how to express the feelings in writings. Most of the times when we are reading something it feels like a robot is speaking all the words in our minds but when we read something like this (Your blog) it gives a human voice not a robotic voice 🙂

    So your little secret is just a full white coat 😀 BTW scientists also wear a white coat and you could have become a scientist as well.

    I always thought that you live in Rusia but after reading your BIF I came to know that you are in USA 😯 Are you still living there or went back to Russia? You didn’t mention your birthplace.

    Thank$

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    1. Jelena Perfiljeva Post author

      Thank you for the kind words, MoazzaM!

      My generation was born in the USSR, the country that no longer exists. In the 90s, like in the musical chair game, the music stopped playing and people ended up in all the different countries, so now my birthplace is listed as ‘Latvia’. But if I go back there then I’ll be “a Russian occupant”. So I just stay in the US to avoid any confusion. 🙂

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      1. Matt Fraser

        When the USSR formally ceased to exist, I was working at the time in McMurdo Station, Antarctica. At the time, Antarctica was one of the few places where the Soviet Union and the United States actively cooperated, in that a Soviet research vessel would visit each February (during the only few weeks of the year when it’s possible for ships to get through the icebreaker-made channel to our wharf), drop off a handful of scientists and technicians, and we would fly them inland to the Soviet research station at Vostok (where the coldest temperatures on Earth were recorded), where they would proceed the spend the winter and next summer before being picked up again.

        So, at the end of December 1991 or early January 1992, we got something of a frantic call from Vostok, where they had heard, of course, by shortwave radio about events back home. While stuck for a year in the coldest and most remote place on Earth, these scientists’ home country had ceased to exist, and in the confusion of the ensuing days they became concerned (convinced?) that no one back in Russia would remember they were there. There was some uncertainty about whether anyone would come to get them. They had become stateless, or so it seemed.

        Fortunately, there was a happy ending, and Russia did send a ship. The Russian sailors played tourist in our station for almost a week, I think, and wow, could they ever party. I’m amazed I survived.

        The other happy outcome is that we have you in our community, brightening our work lives with your witty and insightful comments, posts, and blogs, and generally making it a better place for all of us.

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        1. Julie Plummer

          THanks, Yelena and Matt, for your personal perspectives. You have made history come alive. I remember the events of ’91, but from a much greater distance.

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