On the first working day of the new year I found in my inbox a message from our CEO, Bill McDermott to all 75’000 employees. This fact in itself wasn’t a big surprise. But when I started reading (how many of the 75’000 will actually read this message?) I thought: Wait, this is different.
A quick excursion: Years ago – many years in fact – I was on a business trip at the SAP headquarters in Philadelphia. I had some meetings and at some time I noticed employees gathering in the hallway. It was Mid-December and I was told that this was the office Christmas event, conducted by the new sales director for North America, a man by the name of Bill McDermott. Then Bill had his speech. He was going up and down about how we would get at the throat of our largest competitor, defeat them deal by deal, be merciless and win. End of Christmas event, pretzels included.
Here we are, a dozen years later. And now please read closely.
“First and foremost, SAP should be a company that helps us all do well for our families and loved ones. Always remember that the most significant titles in life won’t appear on our business cards. Mother, father, daughter, son, friend – these are the identities that make us who we are. Don’t miss the birthdays or the family vacations or the nights out with old friends. Treasure these moments. Prioritizing family will make us more fulfilled and more inspired to be successful in our work.
“Second, we should be a company of inclusion and collaboration. One thing you all showed me last year was the deep professional courtesy of being human with each other. You supported each other’s personal causes and rallied around the families of colleagues we lost too soon. I also experienced this personally in your heartfelt notes of support. Let’s make this a hallmark of everything we do together. Whether we’re designing software or supporting customers, let’s let each other in with openness and honesty. This idea of mutual respect – for our skills, our talents and our differences – is a truly fitting aspiration for a great company like SAP.
“Finally, even as we remain humble, let’s stay hungry to make a big difference in this world. We are one of the largest, most respected technology companies on Earth. This obligates us to go beyond our own success and to leave footprints for others to follow. Ask yourself – what kind of footprints will we leave? Are we ready to honor the legacy of SAP by continuing to think about the world’s biggest challenges as our greatest opportunities?”
Sure, we are in it for success. We want our paycheck and we want our bonus. This hasn’t changed from 12 years ago. But I think Bill has found the right context for what makes a company successful. Motivation rises from “serving a purpose bigger than ourselves”.
If we can let this view shed some light on our daily decisions, I think we’re onto something good.