“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:
- 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.
- Léo is very keen on an “internationalist outlook.” Global perspective and experience has become a prerequisite for SAP executives.
- 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.”