Annual performance planning in question.

Each year it’s the same thing: I, like many managers, fill, review and approve performance plans for my employees. And I, like always, wonder how valuable this ritual really is.

In our industry, IT, where constant change and fast pace innovation are necessary conditions for success, how would anyone want to even thinks about getting annual objectives? I don’t remember one year where all my objectives or those of my employees were still valid at the end of the year. When reading this you might think “well… she needs to do a better job at planning!”. In the contrary, isn’t it a good thing that I evolve my employees’ objectives? Isn’t it sane and reassuring that I am adapting to a changing environment by questioning and changing my team’s priorities? Of course some might still think that if my strategy and plan were good I would not need to deviate from them… But who can claim that their plan lasts a year? Our world is more complex than ever and we have to make predictions and guesses all the time, some or most of them wrong. Therefore we constantly adapt. Many say that the world belongs to those who adapt to changes. Because our world is indeed a world of change.

If my success relies on my team’s ability and mine to adapt to change, why don’t HR tools support such abilities? In such circumstance how can I find the motivation to use tools that I know won’t help me to do my job right?

Does rigid annual planning reign because companies don’t trust managers to measure their employees fairly when no annual “contract” on performance is signed? If true, wouldn’t it be sad? I know that some companies have stopped doing annual performance plans. In those companies, managers and employees have replaced annual performance planning with regular reviews of team’s objectives and employees roles to make sure that all remain actual. Are employees of those companies worse off? Are those companies worse off?

I don’t want to suggest that any type of planning is bad. Indeed planning really helps any of us to imagine possible scenarios and get prepared for any of them. To be most valuable planning needs to be continuous rather than episodic, e.g. from January to March every year.

Neither do I want to suggest that we need to sign monthly performance contracts with our employees.

Who does it well and right?

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Build #1

I announced it on thursday: yesterday was phase #1 of “we wanna be builders”, ie the start of Build #1 where my team will build a 3D printer… from an Ultimaker kit.

3pm PST: Ready? Go!!!

First thing: the team opens the box to find hundreds of pieces, big or small.

P1

Then everyone tries to figure out where to start and where the various pieces are.

 

 

P2

The thing starts to look more like one thing… Not yet a printer but we can start to imagine what it may look like…

P3

Even though I show you a sequence of pictures, parallel work is going on. Below the result of hard work from the smaller hands of Rocky, Gigi, Lars and me.

P4

Hard work needs serious drinks… Note the SAP bottle opener!

P5

Kai-Christoph is really passionate!

P6

Isn’t it beautiful? Victory is around the corner… but pride is already there…

P8

A printer with a view… Now we are tackling Guide 4 of 7!

P9

6:30pm and Build#1 is not over. Stay tuned for the second round next week!

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We wanna be builders…

Remember when you built your first people, animals, monsters or cars with play-dough? Wasn’t it exciting to build your own things with play-dough, legos or blocks?

120508_CPE_play dough_03

Similarly isn’t it exciting to create software and see it running? Depending on the software it might not feel as artistic as a beautiful winner in play-dough or a gigantic castle in lego, but the experience of putting the last touch on something you built is often quite enjoyable…

Unfortunately my job and that of many in my team does not give us much chance to build stuff that we can look at, use as decoration, deeply admire and be proud of. In our era of constant interruption with emails, phone calls, time for creative activities tends to be minimal or nonexistent. And many of us crave for painting, cooking, mending, etc.

This is the reason why my team came up with the brilliant idea to jointly make space for building of stuff. We just bought a 3D printer kit from Ultimaker. We will start to assemble the kit tomorrow (build #1). Once the 3D printer is up and running we will do a contest for the best 3D print (build #2). The winner will be an InnoJam winner prize. As we get more proficient with using a 3D printer we’ll deserve to use more tools… Therefore we will spend a day at TechShop where we will build objects for personalizing our space in PAL07 (build #3).

Story and pictures of build #1 tomorrow… Stay tuned!

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My day

uncertainty

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Finally back to real work for developers!

As much as I like to hang out with others, discuss, exchange ideas, joke, etc. I can’t do it for very long unless I also find time to do things and implement real stuff.

I spent most of last week between a workshop on SAP HANA and SAP’s Developer Kick Off Meeting (DKOM). Both were fantastic for learning, sharing and networking. I spent last friday catching with emails and preparing my talk for the Evans Data Corporation Developer Relations Conference (EDC DRC). I spent monday at Day 1 of EDC DRC. And today -finally!- I am back to work to do things…

… back to advancing SAP Developer Programs…

We have so much to do! Of course my team is doing most of the work but I want to “do” stuff too.

You may wonder what stuff we are working on. It’s hard to list everything; there is plenty to be done but below are those things that are most important and urgent:

  1. improving the developer experience by making our technologies and platforms -mostly databases, cloud and mobile- more easily accessible and programmable (via APIs!) and by helping developers use the tools of their choice to develop with our software;
  2. improving our content for developers – guides, code samples, video tutorials – by making all of it easily searchable, relevant and supportive of self learning;
  3. re-creating the developer center web site and making it “amazing”, ie better than state of the art, including a simplified the legal framework: minimum number of clicks, minimum number of agreements;
  4. promoting a new SAP, with exciting value for developers, end to end.

Of course this is not simple and a lot or work for my team and development teams. But exciting!

And there is more: we are preparing more exciting things: new developer events, which we will organize, co-organize or sponsor.

I know there is not much details at this point but if you’re a developer reading this, be reassured that SAP takes you seriously and that we are working very hard to serve you.

Stay tuned,  more details to come soon!

 

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Developers, other developers, more developers, and APIs…

For the second year in a row I am attending the Evans Data Corporation Developer Relations Conference. This event is a 2 days event for all developer advocates in marketing or R&D to share best practices about developer programs. The conference is quite small (~100 attendees) but companies like Google, IBM, Salesforce.com, Adobe, Oracle, Intel, Huawei, AT&T, etc. have representatives here. Even John Deere and Mastercard are there!

This year SAP is a sponsor. We have been working with Evans Data Corporation since last July; they have helped us to develop profiles of strategic developer segments for our technologies and platforms. I was invited to give a talk. The title of my talk was “The burgeoning SAP developer community”. Some might wonder why “burgeoning” while we already have more than 1 million developers in our ecosystem. There is a reason: most of those developers who are already in our ecosystem work at SAP customers and partners and few of them are actually independent developers or entrepreneurs, which are typically those we want to recruit. Burgeoning refers to the net new developer ecosystem we are growing for our newest technologies and platforms, e.g. SAP HANA, SAP Mobile Platform, etc.

I filled the room and got tons of questions: I was asked about connection points between our developer and partner programs, about our application certification for developers, about how much support we provided for developers who wanted to sell their applications on our App Store. I really enjoyed the interaction with the audience. I shared what was hard for us at SAP: creating an amazing developer experience, or evolving our brand, or thinking volume and scale instead of just big customers and big partners. Most in the audience were leading or working for Developer Relations for big companies too. It was interesting and reassuring to see how much our struggles were similar to their. A few asked me during the day how we were managing to show results and progress. It is the toughest of all: how do you link developer communities to revenue generation? Of course analytics are a critical part of our job but connecting developer influence to company purchase is often a long stretch…

During and after a panel that touched on the topic of gamification, I got really hooked on a gamified platform that Evans Data Corporation has set up with Influitive. I went from challenge to challenge to win more and more points and make it to the leaderboard. I got so competitive! I got third and I am still third at the time I write this blog. So proud!

Let’s come back to developers…

What I found quite interesting compared to last year is how much there was much more discussions about APIs, Web APIs, Open APIs. A few people I met were actually head of “API Enablement and Developer Relations” or director of “Open API and Developer Programs”.

My favorite talk was actually John Musser’s talk about API Business Models. His talk was different and extremely informative: it came as an avalanche of ideas and information. He said a few things that made me think:

You should think of APIs along a continuum from internal to private to public. Note that you may want internal to be the biggest use of your API.

He recommended that we think very hard about what we wanted to expose via our APIs:

Was it valuable business, like Twilio? Valuable data? Valuable audience? Valuable function? Valuable marketplace? Valuable access?

He spent a long time telling us about the various types of ROIs of API Business Models:

Free: Facebook, yellow pages, PS apis (gov)
Developer pays: Pay as you go(AWS), Tiered pricing (Mailchimp), Freemium (Google maps), Freemium + tiered pricing (Mailchimp), Unit-based pricing (Sprint, Wordstream), Beware-complex-pricing (Orange), Transaction fee (Stripe, Paypal, Braintree, Securely, Chargify)
Developers get paid: CPA-Affiliate revenue share (Amazon product advertising API), CPC-Revenue share (shopping.com), Recurring revenue share (rdio)
Indirect: Content acquisition (eBay), Content syndication (The New York Times), API as Saas upsell (Salesforce.com), APIs the glue of Saas (the Small Business Web, Intuit)

The Business Model part, the “how” part was really quite interesting.

Adam Seligman from Salesforce.com concluded the day with advices for all of us running developer programs at our companies:

A developer is not a developer, ie all developers are different. Look at your data daily. Google is what will bring developers to your developer web site, not your marketing web sites; therefore be smart with google search. Stand for something and make it visible on your developer web site.

I finished day 1 networking around drinks and dinner with sponsors: IBM, Intel, John Deere, Mastercard. Amazing people, amazing stories!

It was one of these days where I would not give up my developer experience job for anything else 🙂

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My mind tricked me…

After having thought about it for several years, I finally signed up for a Marathon: the San Francisco marathon on June 16th. It is still several weeks ahead but as I am no longer in my 20s… and I have never run more than 30k I need to train. Ok I am lucky because my husband Vincent and a few colleagues will run it too; therefore they train with me or besides me. Isn’t it amazing how much easier things get when you know that others are in the same boat as you?
This morning Vincent and I went for a 11miles run by the bay: from North San Antonio Road, Mountain View into trails in the bay of Palo Alto. We left at 8am. The temperature was perfect, the sun was out, the light was silver.
Based on my training plan I had to run 11 miles at an average of between 8:35 and 9:10 minutes per mile. Vincent was supposed to run well ahead of me as his plan told him to run at an average of between 7:40 and 8:10 minutes per mile.
I was proudly able to maintain a pace of 8:46 minutes per miles for half of the course and then my mind jumped in: another 5.5 miles like this? no way! Isn’t it interesting how the mind can trick you into believing that you can’t do things? It took me a few minutes to find a way to escape from my mind’s trap. I scanned my body to check if I had any pain anywhere. I could not find any. There was no good reason for my body to stop running. Why was my mind trying to make me feel tired? I decided to do like I do when meditating: I scanned my body again, observing my feelings without reacting. I spent the rest of the run scanning my body up and down trying to observe how well it was working. Earlier my mind had tricked me into believing that I would not be able to run the second half of the run as fast as I ran the first half. It was all wrong! Why does the mind do that? Why did it trick me?
It seems to be some sort of protection: tell her that it will hurt even if it does not yet… This way she will stop before it does.
Often the result is that it makes us anticipate problems that we don’t have and will never have. The example I gave with running is the same with all. Our mind can make us stop doing those things that may actually be what we need and what we should do. The good news is that we can train our mind into doing less of this policing and reactive control by learning and practicing meditation. While sitting, running, working or anything…
Beware of your mind!

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