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Author's profile photo MaryKay Grueneberg

Three C’s of a Successful Social Sabbatical

What do you get when you take 12 people from around the globe, each with different backgrounds and skill sets … put them into an unfamiliar country and culture … add in a host of diverse client contacts … and give them some unique and challenging tasks? You get an SAP Social Sabbatical. The keys to a successful outcome with so many different team dynamics in the mix are the three C’s — collaboration, cooperation, coexistence.  In the Social Sabbatical setting, the three C’s are critical to success on many different levels.

Team Guaiba began to get to know each other virtually during the seven weeks of pre-work conference calls, collaborating on team activities from the very beginning. By the time we met face-to-face here in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, we felt as if we already knew each other. Working together has been something we had to learn to do while here and is something we have been quite successful with. During the day, we go off with our individual mini-teams and clients. But no mini-team is ever really alone. Most evenings, we end up together for dinner or other activities. This is usually our time to relax and learn more about each other. This is also the time that we often use to discuss our projects, asking other teams for advice or help.


Our group of 12 is divided into four mini-teams of three. It is in these mini-teams that we had to quickly and efficiently learn to work with each other while at the same time discovering and defining the needs of our clients. We call my team “Team City Hall” (myself, Jason Tissera, and Martijn Tielen). We work with various members of the City of Porto Alegre, working to refine their Fala 156 communications system and service department processes to provide better services and communications with the city’s residents.


In addition to working within the large group and within our mini-teams, we have needed to learn to work with our local clients, quickly adapting to their culture and work style. Brazilians are very hard-working and earnest in everything they do, but they do it all in “Brazilian time,” which takes a while to embrace. Trying to make our clients understand the urgency for input requests, meeting requests, etc., is a daily challenge we have all faced. Those of us who have also had to use interpreters for meetings have faced yet other challenges. Mutual cooperation between clients and the teams has been crucial in the projects. Team City Hall with our clients:


This past weekend, Team Guaiba took a road trip to Florianopolis that turned into team building and bonding at its best. On Saturday, rather than going out to yet another restaurant, we decided to stay in and make dinner. Everything from planning, shopping, preparation, cooking, and cleaning was done by the entire team. We worked together to create one amazing dinner. Collaboration, cooperation, coexistence at its finest…Team Guaiba has nailed it!


Follow us on Twitter #TeamGuaiba @sapcsr  @MKGee

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      Author's profile photo Alexandra van der Ploeg
      Alexandra van der Ploeg

      I get hungry just looking at this picture:). Way to go team Guaiba! Keep it up, just 10 more days to go!! Best, Alex