SAP’s participation in a co-created leadership development program
It is not about finding out in-depth how a certain competency is applicable to one particular sector, rather it is about the process and the journey of that application
This column presents the thoughts of Bhuvan Naik, erstwhile VP - HR of Indian subcontinent (Now Gobal Head of Career & Talent Management) at SAP about conceptualizing and participating in XChange, an innovative consortium-style leadership development program, together with 3M, Bosch, Coffee Day and Titan.
The full XChange story can be read here
There is tremendous value to a program like XChange, which is powerful and innovative opportunity. It has been an unbelievably rich experience for the participants to go through all the enriching sessions, learning and building networks with peers in companies from different sectors. That is the uniqueness of XChange.
The strength of what we brought together is in learning from each other’s journeys. The core principle is to learn from one another. It is not about finding out in-depth how a certain competency is applicable to one particular sector, rather it is about the process and the journey of that application. For instance, innovation is top notch in 3M, and as an IT company, SAP cannot adopt these processes verbatim. There are, however, aspects of innovation which are common to all, such as the journey of what it takes to innovate and the elements of a setup which facilitates innovative thinking. Similarly, while design thinking is a powerful concept that is not specific to IT, we have been practicing it extensively in SAP in the last 3-4 years. The company could certainly train others on it, which is why we took ownership of the competency ‘Strategy and design thinking’. Within an end-to-end design thinking workshop led by SAP employees, the participants started with basic design tools and spent half a day creating a future expansion strategy blueprint for Ola cabs. This innovative exercise received an extremely positive response from the participants. Practitioners from SAP and 3M also shared their own processes towards strategy creation with the participants.
There is no doubt that the taste we got through our participation in XChange has been an extremely good one. While learning has been fantastic, on the flip side, the efforts which were needed from our company to sustain this had not been directly proportional to the number of our people who actually got the benefit of it. If a significantly greater number of people in the company could benefit from XChange, this effort would be worth it for our HR teams, who devoted a tremendous amount of time outside of their primary responsibilities to drive this.
Such a program should continue to grow and become more expansive with more companies participating. It should be owned and productized, with multiple batches running throughout the year. That way the sustaining effort required from stakeholder companies can be minimized and benefit of it increased. That said, there’s tremendous value and potential to this form of learning, and we would be open to possibility of re-joining in a later version.