A Kindness Economy for the SAP Community
Oona Horx Strathern has been described as a futurist, although her new book does not look into the future, but into the present, analyzing what could be better here and now. Can economics be kind? How can business evolve towards humanistic entrepreneurship? With radical optimism, Oona Horx Strathern explores these questions and proves that not only can the Kindness Principle make the world a better place, it can be a decisive competitive advantage.
Kindness can be a competitive advantage in both a person’s personal and professional life. A smile from a stranger, a friendly greeting at the supermarket, a helping hand when taking out your recycling can brighten your day, lift your spirits, and give your thoughts a positive boost. At work, a quick "please and thank you” in an email response can open up new possibilities. Even acknowledging the obvious with a small response is an act of courtesy and kindness.
Why am I recommending Oona Horx Strathern’s book and writing this? Because in the first half of 2023, I wrote countless emails to SAP executives, board members, and supervisory board members. I know all of them personally, and the people I wrote to would recognize me on the street. Many of these mails were merely informative or contained hints, i.e. no requests for complex answers. In most cases a short "please and thank you" would have sufficed as an act of kindness—a kindness economy.
According to Oona Horx Strathern, kindness that comes from the heart of a company can dramatically increase its success. Companies that prioritize profit maximization neglect issues such as sustainability, purpose, and responsibility. In a kindness economy, people come before profit.
My most recent SAP e-mail went to two members of the supervisory board whom I know personally, and was about participating as a cultural sponsor in the Salzburg Festival—a famous music and drama festival held annually in the summer—as Audi, Siemens, BWT, Rolex, and the incomparable Kühne Foundation have done for many years. In other words, putting people before profit. In that way, sponsoring could become a core element of the kindness economy. An act of courtesy, kindness, and respect would have been a response to my e-mail on starting cultural education; it would have been a symbol of a kindness economy.
Oona Horx Strathern writes in her new book, "The goal is to give employees and customers the respect they deserve and develop real solutions. It is about acting in a way that is humane, sustainable, and successful. And sustainability is to be understood in its original sense: actions that once taken then trigger a chain of further positive events. Have you ever intentionally smiled at someone and not gotten a smile back?
SAP should be respectful, polite, and friendly to its own customers in the face of the many challenges ahead—S/4 conversion, cloud computing, or license management. A kindness economy could be the answer to many of the challenges SAP CEO Christian Klein is currently facing with his own employees, SAP customers, and the community.