I’ve learned a lot of lessons in my 18 years of SAP Change and Learning consulting. Some lessons have been learned the hard way, while others were pleasant surprises. Today, I’d like to talk about a “teaching moment” I had on a project regarding Super Users.
Full disclosure, I’m a former pep squad / cheerleader type. I get really excited and annoyingly passionate about helping people embrace SAP. On projects, I believed that Super Users should feel the same. They’d be the friendly, helpful folks that others liked and related to, and they would act kind of as a pep squad for SAP. (note to self: on next project, see if customer will name the Super User program “The Pep Squad”… maybe not…)
Enter a lovely customer that assigned a gentleman we will call “Bob” to the Super User program. I’m not joking that the customer was lovely. I enjoyed them very much: they worked hard, they were funny and nice, they brought us food, they let me wear jeans and sneakers, all was well. Then I met Bob. I was baffled. Had I done something to annoy the customer? Did they secretly hate me? Why on earth would they make me work closely with Bob, the grouchiest man in the organization? If I’m the queen of enthusiasm, this man was my polar opposite. How could I possibly use him as a pep squad member for change? I tried to politely ask the CIO if he was playing a prank on me. Turns out, I was the one who was wrong (please don’t tell my husband that I admitted to being wrong; he might expect it to happen again).
What I didn’t realize was that Bob, aka King Grumpypants, was very highly respected on the plant maintenance team. He was very vocal in his opinions, and others listened to him and followed his lead. Bob did not want to use SAP and made no secret of that stance, even in large meetings. I took that as a challenge, and made it my personal goal to make him love SAP. It was the only way I could think of to survive the project without hurting each other. We spent a good deal of time together, discussing how the new system would impact his job. I set up early demos so he could see the functionality for himself. We talked about the + and – of the new processes compared to the old ones. Turns out, Bob was a reasonable guy. Once he saw that SAP was going to make his job easier, not harder, he became an excellent advocate. He spoke positively, and darn near passionately, in his division meetings. When we got to go live, Plant Maintenance was one of our best successes. His team trusted him and, in turn, trusted the system. I really grew to like and respect Bob.
This experience changed how I view the “ideal” Super User. I no longer look for someone carrying pom-poms. I look for the individuals who are respected and have a wide reach of influence. It’s up to us as change leaders to make them champions. Even when they begin by being a little curmudgeonly like Bob, they can be the best resources for equipping their colleagues before launch and supporting them after. Well done, Bob. Well done!