Anemia and inbreeding
My wife takes Christian Klein's side, whom she has always found very likeable. She's right. The new autocrat at SAP is brilliant, affable and assertive. Everything's fine, isn't it?
You don't have to be a clairvoyant or have one of those famous crystal balls to realize that this concentration of power at SAP's Walldorf headquarters and the very small, predominantly German-speaking Executive Board are not suitable for solving global challenges.
It used to be better: The SAP Executive Board was not only bigger, but also more international. Former Chief Technology Officer Shai Agassi came from Israel with, among other things, "TopManage" in his luggage - the later SAP Business One.
He was followed by Vishal Sikka, an Indian with a degree in mathematics from Stanford, USA, and founder of two successful start-ups. There was South African Rob Enslin, U.S. managers Jennifer Morgan and Adaire Fox-Martin, Danish short-term executive Lars Dalgaard and, of course, Jim Hagemann Snabe and Bill McDermott.
The SAP board was not always brilliant, but always multicultural - a global community for a global community!
They speak German: SAP is now run by young men who largely grew up in the shadow of the SAP office towers in Walldorf: Christian Klein, Thomas Saueressig, Luka Mucic, and Jürgen Müller from Berlin.
These talented people have not yet seen much of the world outside the SAP empire. For all my wife's admiration for the next generation of top managers, I am struck by the fear of "anemia and inbreeding.
Other mothers have beautiful daughters, too, they say. At SAP, however, inbreeding seems to be the order of the day. While top managers have left SAP in droves in recent years, I am not aware of any relevant influx.
A selection of the most spectacular departures: Co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe went to Siemens as a member of the Supervisory Board. SAP Leonardo manager Tanja Rückert went to Bosch. SAP TechEd superstar Björn Goerke took leave and a year off.
SAP manager Marcell Vollmer went to Celonis. SAP Manager Edmund Frey to Spryker. Chief Technology Officer Bernd Leukert to Deutsche Bank. Cloud board member Rob Enslin to Google.
This list could be continued almost indefinitely, and an apology to the numerous top SAP managers who are now successfully working elsewhere and whom I am not mentioning here.
But who came to SAP from internationally successful technology groups in Walldorf? A call to the SAP community: Please write to me if you know someone who once worked for a well-known IT company and is now in a top position at SAP.
I met Stefan Batzdorf in Walldorf, who almost fits the profile I was looking for: From SAP he went to Infosys and now back to SAP as CTO S/4 Hana. I am worried if no new ideas, suggestions and strategies from outside diffuse into the ERP world market leader. "Anemia and inbreeding" are not good prerequisites for the challenges ahead.
SAP CEO Christian Klein seems to have recognized this deficit to some extent: Following the surprise departure of co-CEO Jennifer Morgan, he plans to increase his presence in the United States. With a private jet and a mouth guard, this plan could succeed.
But who will then take care of the Asian area, India, China and Japan? Who should be responsible for marketing, communications and sales on the SAP Executive Board? The potential shortage of skilled workers in the digital transformation will be difficult to administer without a Chief Human Resources Officer.
There may be extreme situations where all power must be concentrated on a few board members. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has set an example and de facto eliminated his parliament.
Whether this can be a successful strategy for the future remains to be seen, both in Hungary and in Walldorf. I doubt these anti-democratic developments. I am much more comfortable with a global SAP Executive Board and an international SAP community.