The headline shows how big SAP has become

The other transition” is quite a headline for this piece on the pending accession of Léo Apotheker to the CEO role.  Pairing the SAP transition with the inauguration of Barack Obama says a lot about where SAP is today.  The piece itself is perceptive and worth a read, especially about how SAP has avoided concocting

a recipe for cloning the head of a corporation so the body can stay the same. But SAP, which has practised this type of “smooth” transition in different forms since it was founded in 1972, has so far avoided this pitfall. Each of its bosses has been quite different from the previous one, as the firm’s needs have changed. 

There are a few other points in the piece that warrant comment:

  1. At SAP, succession planning is done about as well as I’ve seen it anywhere.  While the succession role may not materialize per the original design, I’ve found the process useful in planning my career, as well as helping my team plan theirs.
  2. Léo is very keen on an “internationalist outlook.”  Global perspective and experience has become a prerequisite for SAP executives.
  3. Many of SAP’s current and pending organizational changes are all about executing against the goal highlighted in this line from the article: “[M]aking real money from all the new products it has developed.” 

How to get “Movin’ on up…”

If I paid you to think, you could cash your check at the penny arcade.

If I paid you to think, you could cash your check at the penny arcade.

John Baldoni’s post (here) identifies one of the leadership lessons I’ve had to re-learn continually — letting go of my self-image as the “go-to” or “indispensable” person.  It saps my team’s effectiveness when I don’t remember to step back from my tendency to want to know it all (and to “show that I know” to all).

John is riffing on a while paper from Scott Elbin’s firm (the firm’s site is here, Scott’s Next Level blog is here).  I won’t recapitulate the post; John’s summary (below) is effective enough on its own:

[L]eaders accomplish little by themselves; they can accomplish much by working with others. Those who are in positions of identifying and grooming next generation leaders would do well to select managers who know how to achieve results through the actions of others. Competency will get you promoted one or two rungs on the ladder; working with and through others will open doors to senior leadership.

Good article on SAP CEO transition

I liked Carter Dougherty’s recent article (here) on the pending handover from Henning Kagermann to Leo Apotheker.   Most of the focus is on Henning and the tone is casual and chatty, befitting a successful exiting CEO.  For the most part the facts, spin, etc. appear correct.  It’s also useful to remember that Henning did lead sales for a bit; he isn’t simply a coder. 

There is one bit of emphasis I’d like to add to this paragraph:

There is some truth to the tale being told in the markets, but the reasons run deeper than a mere change of chief executives. The company is indeed shifting its focus more toward the bottom line,…

Definitely agree so far.

… and less on the multibillion-dollar investments in technology that helped make it the market leader in the lucrative field of business software.

Don’t agree here… in fact, my take is that we’re being more careful about how we spend our R&D dollars.  The intent is to focus the development portfolio on initiatives that are true game-changers or keep us on top of the current game, which usually aren’t small potatoes.

For more on this, my own comments when we announced the new R&D targets are here, along with some from Dennis Howlett (here) and Larry Dignan (here).

The downside of being a celebrity CEO, pol, etc.

It’s all fun and games being famous until you’re caught with a dead girl, live boy, or sudden weight loss.  This little “Problem/Advice” piece from the Financial Times (here) focuses on Steve Jobs’ newly-gaunt physique and its impact on Apple.

Each of the advisors — save the PR guy — have something unexpected to say.  For example, who knew that an unexpected CEO death generally means a stock price increase? 

Interesting, but grim, reading.

Hat tip: Dennis Howlett (here)

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