In my last post I have written about embracing emotions to induct innovation. This was triggered by a good conversation on the Sapphire Now around Enterprise Architecture. Even though my approach to Enterprise Architecture is somewhat different than the approach presented on the Sapphire Now I enjoyed it to speak to Enterprise IT Architecture experts.
The most interesting session on the Sapphire for me was a small 30 minute session with the promising title "Practising Empathy in Design Thinking". Surprisingly a fair amount of interested people showed up, even though the Sapphire Now especially in combination with the SAP TechEd is more dedicated to embracing technology and focusing around that, which is absolutely understandable given the nature of the business of SAP.
When Marilyn Pratt entered the stage it was very obvious that she has a story to tell. A story about empathy, thinking different and approaching people. For sure not a story about a specific method or technical tools and answers to a problem, but a story about people collaborating to achieve something. And that surprised me in a very positive way. The second speaker Hester Hilbrecht focused a lot on explaining Design Thinking. I think that this method is a valid technique for sense making and problem solving in the Ambiguous, but Actionable space of the SCAN framework from Tom Graves, but does not truly work in the Simple, Complicated or Not-Known space. I might come back to that topic in a later post.
The first very promising thing is that a paradigm shift seems to start now. Even though compared to the pure amount of sessions and the overall themes the Empathy and Design Thinking portion was very small it was clearly visible that the approach is shifting from "SAP Knows Better" towards "What does the Customer (or User) truly need", including the techniques to achieve that in a structured way. The approach might be debatable, but the start of that paradigm shift is very great to see. Finally I have some hope that the whole User and Customer Concept of SAP is changing to something more warm and useful and less effective and efficiency driven.
On top of that Marilyn Pratt opened up the space for a discussion in the audience and facilitated that in a great way, which allowed me to listen to other great sources of knowledge and gave me the opportunity to talk to some of them after the session. Especially the short discussion with Paula Rosenblum and Mrinal Wadhwa about Design and Art and how to achieve it was a pleasure and my personal highlight of the Sapphire 2012. There was other truly great moments, but this one was special, because it was intense with a lot of passion and an absolute desire to change something to the better while there was zero to no intention to make a business out of it. It added to my knowledge and touched me emotional and that is what I personally like most.
I felt this great moment of feeling the emotions of the others as Jermey Rifkin has put it so nicely in his statement: "We are soft wired to experience an others plight as if we are experiencing it ourselves" shown in this RSA Animation. And this is part of the core of my thinking in my post Don't Think You Are, Know You Are!