Innovation - are we doing enough?
It’s official. Australia’s GDP expanded at an annual rate of 0.50 percent in the last quarter. According to National Australia Bank forecasts we can expect Australian GDP growth of 2.75 percent in 2010 and 3.5 percent in 2011. A surging Latin America and stronger growth in India, China and other East Asia economies will continue to drive the global recovery with global growth increasing to 4.5 percent in 2010 and 4.25 percent in 2011, despite the continued weakness of European economies.
We, as SAP consultants, have been very good historically at gathering business requirements and implementing solutions to support these requirements. But as our customers return to growth mode and look to explore ways of leveraging their IT to enable and accelerate that growth, we need to rise to the challenge.
In this context, a recent idea from Edward de Bono seems apt. He has coined the word EBNE (the acronym for ‘Excellent But Not Enough’). ‘How do you bring about change?’ de Bono asks. The usual method, he says, is to prove that something is wrong or inadequate and therefore a change is needed. You may try and offer a better idea but unless you can show that the existing idea is deficient, it is unlikely that your better idea will be adopted. This habit of thinking, de Bono maintains, arises directly from the idiom of argument.
“You must set out to show that the existing idea is wrong in some respect,” De Bono writes. “There is a real practical need to have some way of saying: ‘That is excellent – but not enough’. There are many situations where we need to say this. A politician may make the most wonderful speeches. That is excellent but it is not enough. Action is important too. So I have invented ‘EBNE’; this means ‘Excellent But Not Enough’. Now, when you want to express that sentiment you simply say ‘That is EBNE’. This is instead of a whole paragraph of explanation. The willingness to acknowledge something as ‘excellent’ is important. This is different from spurious attempts to prove something inadequate in order to suggest change. Something may indeed be excellent and yet change may still be necessary. Our traditional habits of thinking are EBNE. They are excellent but they are not enough. Truth, logic and argument are simply not enough. We need to add perceptual thinking. We need to add creative and design thinking.
I think we as SAP consultants need to embrace the idea of EBNE. Bringing in projects on time and on budget is, in itself, EBNE. We have to step up and work to educate and inform our customers on how to better leverage their SAP investment. We have to be more proactive in working with them to create a roadmap of business improvement initiatives that support and enable business growth.
This is particularly relevant as the solution has exploded in terms of what is available and how it can be best used. As a practical example, SAP ERP EP5 has over 1000 new enhancements baked righted into it. We need to help our customers leverage this technology today to get more value from their SAP implementations.
We need to help drive simplification of the SAP solutions implemented where the norm was to build in expensive-to-maintain customisations. We need to get back to core solutions that lower TCO.
We have a role to help our customers embrace SOA-based enterprise architectures and leverage SAP to do this, thereby reducing the cost of integration and improving business flexibility.
In short we need to stop and ask the questions: Is our work just EBNE? How can we move beyond just delivering on a contract? Is this really the right way to deliver the solution? Could we do it faster, cheaper and provide a better long-term outcome for the customer?
As SAP consultants we have a responsibility to protect our collective reputations – by delivering smart solutions that enable rather than disable growth. We have to think beyond the customers’ requirements today and help them understand how decisions today impact their ability to adapt tomorrow.
Customers buy our reputation and trust us to look after their interests. Do we do enough of that? Or are we to busy designing solutions that go nowhere?
Investing in an SAP system means becoming part of an ongoing process; not just buying an expensive one-way trip to an illusory destination. As SAP consultants we all need to work to make sure that process delivers continuing value. As consultants being part of that process is a privilege and one we should not take lightly. We need to embrace the concept of EBNE. Our ecosystem depends on it. Our careers demand it.
Innovation - are we doing enough? by Stuart Dickinson, General Manager Consulting Australia, Oxygen Business Solutions
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