SAP Community Cares

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SAP Insider BPM2008

SAP Insider BPM2008
Originally uploaded by marilynpratt
First Jumpstart day session of the SAP Insider BPM2008 in Vegas this week featured Column 2 author, analyst and blogger Sandy Kemsley .
Topics included: definitions of BPM and BPMM – Business Process Maturity Model.
Session started by attempting to create order around the confusion of BPM-related terms.
Three info packed hours further covered subjects such as understanding the range of process types in an organization, tips like: "Don’t let the requirements become the design", warning around spending too much time modeling the "as is" state, and some fair accessments of SAP Netweaver BPM. Clear understanding that many “required” features are delayed until future versions. Outlined that there is more strategic integration with SAP ERP and a common process layer for modeling BPM and ERP. There was also a pronouncement that the goal was to become the BPM of choice for SAP customers rather than the best of breed BPM. What I further understood was that Sandy Kemsley liked the SAP NetWeaver BPM data mapping capability which although not inherently different from what you would see in other systems was highlighted as providing capabilities that are good.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

ESME Team Member Meetups - Accidentally on Purpose

I feel a bit like Woody Allen's Zelig with the uncanny ability to insert oneself into some exceedingly interesting (historic) social environments as a famous nobody. It's like having a passport to be an official "fly on the wall" of some fascinating conversations. You get to be present, observe and on occasion document and record. That's the way I'll approach Office 2.0 this week and that seems to be my experience heretofore with the ESME folks.

“Enterprise Social Media Experiment (ESME) is a Web 2.0 application that permits social network-based communication among, between, and outside organizational boundaries. ESME draws its development team from the SAP Community and includes both BPX'ers and business people with an interest in learning how social networks, the media they generate and business processes can be usefully co-mingled to deliver innovative solutions to old world problems.” (Darren Hague, Richard Hirsch and others in the SAP Community Contributor Corner wiki)

When Dick Hirsch began to flesh out and realize the original BPX community project, it was obvious that he was a quintessential or model SAP business process expert: a professional with deep SAP technical acumen, experience of business modeling tools and process improvement methodologies, as well as an adept story teller with a keen journalistic eye and language.

The ESME conversationalists list (those engaged in the collaborative conversation about ESME) looks like a “whose who” of some top SAP Community Network members.

So being the declared online yenta I am (which is a grandmotherly busybody), I wanted to know more about those virtual members I haven’t yet had the pleasure to meet.

I’m fortunate to go around the world these next few weeks and I’ll be rubbing shoulders with almost all of the ESME folks, some by purpose and design and a few, quite serendipitously (like in the case of David Pollack who happens to be with me this week at Office 2.0). There are even a few folks I got to meet-up with recently at their invitation, having nothing to do with ESME whatsoever. Such is the case with Jen Robinson and Kirsten Gay who I met with 2 weeks ago in the US SAP headquarters in Newtown Square when I was invited to meet with the team of Natalie Hanson an "anthropologist working in the business world" and Kirsten and Jen's manager.

Kirsten and Jen happen to be members of the ESME team.

I was interested in the skills they bring to the table and their internal portal work and particularly in their focus on the very human side of technology.

Here's their brief bios:

S Kirsten Gay is the Manager of User Experience at SAP America and experienced in user interface design, design team management, integration of design deliverables with market demands, and strategic development of design services for corporations, educational institutions and private clients.

Jen Robinson, currently a lead in SAP's Global Business Knowledge Management Competency Center and an MBA student at NYU Stern whose professional interests include IT strategy, emerging technologies, entertainment, and new media.

Attending Office 2.0

Here I am in San Francisco attempting to live into the concepts I'll be hearing more about tomorrow at Office 2.0. That means using Google Calendar and scheduling my sessions by looking into the wiki agenda and working with everything via my browser. For someone (me) complaining endlessly about email overload and struggling to make sure I at least know of and attempt to understand and use the latest and greatest enterprise collaboration tools, the next few days should be very interesting, to say the least. I'm hoping I can tweet some of my impressions and I'll be using my colleague, Craig Cmehil's Eventtrack to organize my contents around the event and tag them with #o208 (thanks Craig) .

I do feel a little out of my element. Granni isn't the fastest wiki markup maven in the west (and I'm in the west now having arrived here this evening from NYC) and I really will be itching to see how others tame the beast with Office productivity untools. One of my goals: to look over shoulders and see how others are getting their collaboration work done. I think the case studies will be enlightening.

Oh, and I hope to finally meet a number of twitter pals and see how face-to-face corresponds to online interactions. Was really hoping to meet Gia Lyons, my heroine of "collaboration made easy" assets, but I don't see her on the roster. Her new colleague, Sam Lawerence will be there though and I will finally get to meet Oliver Marks as well.

My biggest goal will actually be to invigorate my understanding of how to facilitate adoption for folks like myself, perhaps a slightly different demography from the 30's something, hard-core geeks I engage with in my SDN world for whom every technological gizmo is perfectly intuitive and if you don't "get it" immediately, you are some dumb **s n00b.

Wish me well. Want to bring some fresh energy to the BPX tables of SAP TechEd the following week in Vegas and recharge my batteries that have run low from working in my isolated cell of a home office. Having put the accident, summer and Teched prepping behind me, I'm raring to go.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Metaphor for Collaboration

Find more videos like this on LearningTown!

A while ago I blogged on BPX/SDN about the metaphor of a Jazz ensemble for collaborative behavior in our community. The title: Successful Collaboration is Like Jazz and the blog content was inspired by the meeting I had with Social Media expert Kevin De Kock.
Today I stumbled upon another collaborative metaphor which really resonated well. This time I found it by visiting a video posted on Elliot Masie's Learning Town wiki, which is a learning collaborative platform growing exponentially these past 3 months. The idea featured in the video of rowing (crew) being an almost perfect collaborative analogy, shouldn't have taken me by surprise as I've spent the last year supporting, admiring and yes, even dabbling in this sport which my youngest daughter, Carmel, excels in. The video blends a great visual with texts that typify an ideal collaborative environment.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Discharged from the Trauma Unit and Discharging Some Emotion

Ironically while a rather heated debate rages on our SDN/BPX blogs around the topic of personal contents in the SAP blogsphere I am faced once again with a dilemma of what content is appropriate for which audience. Here in “A time to mourn a time to rejoice”, grannimari, can definitely share and discharge a day’s emotions and convey personal feelings, opinions and observations. Is that offensive in the business context? Where do we draw the line?

Today was pretty dramatic. It started by waking up being alive. Now, I know that is what most of us perceive we do everyday, but considering last evening nearly had me dead, waking up alive was rather an occasion. In fact, I half-jokingly asked my husband last night if I was dreaming I had survived the rather serious car accident that a few hours previously had thrown my vehicle on to its side and forced this grandmother to confront her mortally in a stark way. I sincerely could not fathom that I wasn’t dead.

Thankfully, the car that plowed into mine had passengers who sustained no injuries, but being trapped in an overturned vehicle, with the knowledge that my mortality was as finite and sure as any other disposable resource on this planet was very sobering. Modern technology provided means to alert my family to my predicament and to assure them that although badly shaken and my car totally destroyed, I was alive and well. But during the hours I lay in the trauma unit, being checked from head to toe, and very alone, I kept thinking how helpful it would be if I could reach my blackberry and punch in a few tweets. A kind of self medication and reaffirmation of life was what I imagined that ability to be.

This morning I fulfilled that urge and the responses were heartening. Empathy is a powerful human need. I discovered a number of colleagues and friends and even virtual strangers (twitter followers who I really didn’t know at all) who sent caring words across the twitterverse and shared similar harrowing experiences.

I have no lack of loving people in my immediate periphery. I’m blessed with a remarkable spouse and uniquely sensitive children and very close and good friends of long standing and steadfast support, many of them rallying around me yesterday and today. But how can I describe and celebrate the incredibly healing power of the kind words of virtual strangers?

So I still deliberate over whether such content has any place in a public business environment, namely my SDN/BPX blog arena, while I haven’t the slightest qualms about posting these sentiments to my @marilynpratt twitter account and microblog environment. For whom do I post these? Actually, mostly for my business associates, who, if truth be told, are transformed in an instant to more familiar acquaintances in the context of these sharings. Today I was really grateful for that as well.

Thanks for all your good wishes. They are very therapeutic.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Reason to Rejoice - Wedding, Sustainable Style

When my oldest daughter wed in a civil ceremony on the lawn of our municipal building a few years back, with the trees for her canopy and only her loving sibs and parents as witnesses, it seemed a really fitting choice for a young woman who seriously cares for the environment and celebrates simplicity, nature and modesty.
We couldn't have been more pleased with her choice (in spouse or location) and we secretly wished that other such joyous events could transpire with such a minimum of stress, pomp and waste.
Imagine our surprise yesterday when child 2 announced that he would be combining a visit to us with a similar request to wed; same location, same minimalist style.
Now, it is not that I condemn rituals or decry formal celebrations or imagine that the rest of the brood will follow suit in this exact manner, but there is something so eminently pure about the choices of these two siblings that I need to stop and acknowledge their courage in daring to be different and dispense with extravegance.
In these turbulent times of reckoning with the finite nature of the stuff of our planet, it is very refreshing to see young people choosing a method of commitment that doesn't entail inordinate amounts of waste. They have taught me to reexamine what tradition has schooled us to expect and instead of paroxysms of frenzied planning details, just delight in their assertion that such events needn't be extravagant to be meaningful.

They arrive the fourth of July and with them a declaration of independence from the dependence on wedding stuff. The fireworks are virtual.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mourning and Celebrating Earth Day

In my part of the globe, Earth Day, April 22nd draws to a close. While it was gratifying to see it recognized by so many and varied entities, among them Time magazine honoring it with a “green border”, Google with a moss encrusted landscape, my twitter friends using it for an avatar with monkchips and yellowpark creating a @earthdayavatars visualization for “ambient community” display and my colleague Craig Cmehil creating/supporting an eventtrack to aggregate all the earth day tags in flickr, technorati, and twitter, I still can’t help thinking that this isn’t just a day to celebrate earth but to mourn it as well. So unless there is some very powerful innovative and restorative activity happening and very fast, all the wearing of the green will have little more effect than it did when I dressed up for St.Patrick’s day in junior high. Lots of sentiment and identification but it didn’t at all make me Irish.

This I mourn deeply: since 1970, the first Earth Day, almost no real perceptible change.

“After Earth Day, nothing was the same,” environmental writer Philip Shabecoff said. Earth Day brought revolutionary change and “touched off a great burst of activism that profoundly affected the nation’s laws, its economy, its corporations, its farms, its politics, science, education, religion, and journalism…” It achieved Nelson’s long-sought goal of putting the environment onto the nation’s political agenda. “Most important, the social forces unleashed after Earth Day changed, probably forever, the way Americans think about the environment.” Philip Shabecoff, A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 114.

Is nothing the same? That would be cause to rejoice. But alas, if this is our "new" political agenda, why is it that the conference sessions seem recycled and stale. Recycling earth day translates into a stagnation which can only make its meaning toxic plasticity. It will take some very engaged, determined and creative minds to bring it back to vibrant life. That would really be a day to celebrate.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Moment's Pause

While we are busy in New York celebrating the Blogger Social '08 I find myself taking more than a moment's pause to mourn what is presently happening in Tibet. Ironically as we Socialites boarded the Circle Line for a wonderful and joyful trip around the big apple, protesters were lining the streets protesting the genocide in Tibet.

Business as usual? A time to mourn a time to rejoice? Some further pictures of both events here.
Small consolation. With about 80 people who care, that's 80 more possibilities in the world to express outrage over the killings. From people who know how to make ideas sticky. From people who have larger than average voices. Lift them.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thanking Good People (Pass it on)

"Sometimes life's events just come together at the right time, and things falls into place. The last few hours have been exhilarating, and a perfect ramp up for me to celebrate today's internet holiday: Good People Day 2008."

Thus blogs Kristen Forbriger inspired by Gary Vaynerchuk's declaration that today, April 3rd, be a day to thank good people.

And thanks to a randomly read tweet, I've been virally infected with this meme and picking up the phone (3 am just as it was for Kristen), I find myself speaking to Cambodia. Why Cambodia? Why now? Who thanking? I'm making good on a promise I began to keep a week ago, when I sent a small package to a tiny village 5 kilometers outside of Siem Riep. There, last December, together with my friend and my son, we found ourselves cared for and nurtured by Mr. S., a survivor of the Pol Pot Child Labor camps and our guide through the history, past and present, of his country, Cambodia. He, like his fellow countryman(woman) Chanrithy Him, lost his parents, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles in the killing fields.

Mr. S. is a spiritual person. He shared with us his beliefs, his dreams for a quiet and peaceful and pastoral life. It seemed to us, that he supported and guided a handful of "relatives" whose only relation was experiential. The family who shared their wood hut with us had suffered the same fate as Mr. S. and I can truly say that never have I met a more generous or good family. Chanrithy's words resound here:

"As a survivor, I want to be worthy of the suffering that I endured as a child. I don't want to let that pain count for nothing, nor do I want others to endure it ... . Throughout a childhood dominated by war, I learned to survive. In a country faced with drastic changes, the core of my soul was determined to never let the horrific situations take away the better part of me. I mentally resisted forces I could only recognize as evil by being a human recorder, quietly observing my surroundings, making mental notes of the things around me. There would come a day to share them."

So I called Cambodia to say a simple "thank you". I did not detail the reason. The gratefulness and privilege I felt that other human beings had opened heart and family to us was what I was acknowledging. Mr. S. has not yet received the package, but the joy he imparted across those many miles was for the call. "I am so happy you called and hope to speak to you often". Thank you Mr. S., from my family who learned from you and your family the recognition of the purest goodness. The acts of generosity and kindness to total strangers, the gifts of sharing the enormity of your past and the remarkable resilient hopefulness of your future. You've passed it on.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Twittervite to a Blogger Diner

Yesterday, I noticed a quick "tweet" from Jeremiah Owyang in which he invites locals to a blogger dinner in New York, then uninvites them, then kind of re-invites them to a meeting with Charlene Li.

After a rather cryptic plea to Sam Lawrence to argue my case before Jeremiah, I decided to take my chances and hopped over the George Washington bridge into midtown Manhattan to see if I would be a persona non Grata if I showed up for the event without being formally registered (as registration had already closed).

On the subway I was busy musing about whether I would appear to others as a Zelig character, crashing the party and behaving in a "chameleon like way" as one of the pseudo-blogerati. I started wondering if indeed I had any business calling myself blogger, let alone going to the meet-up, when suddenly a poster caught my eye: "Working for the radical notion of fairness". This is the tag line of an online community for "independent workers, mutual support, advocacy and the spirit of friendship".

I thought about how blogging is a very personal form of expression and decided that working for fairness was exactly who I am and want to be. The radical part was a bit strident but heck, having passions around causes is part of my DNA. Regardless of credentials I felt armed with a real persona even though I see my blogging experience as a modest one.

I got to NYC, attended the meet up, found Charlene Li to be gracious and welcoming, received a copy of her excellent book, Groundswell, which she authored with Josh Bernoff and considered the evening a success. In addition I met with a number of folks who I had hoped to be introduced to for a long while now such as Robin Carey and Jerry Bowles, being a visitor of their Social Media Today and their Energy Collective blogs. Then too, I encountered a number of others who I'd like to add to my twitter buddies and who engage in activities regarding the tracking, creation, and promoting of social media. I'll need to check my "dance cards" for exact names but companies like Razorfish and Monster and Clickster come to mind.

Upon returning home, I went to further reference the event, the hostess, and some of the folks I'd met and found this post in Charlene's blog: Turning radicals into revolutionaries: the key to kick-starting your social strategy Really resonates. I think I'll change that poster tag line for me to read: "Working for the revolutionary notion of fairness".

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Micro Blog Tweet Points to “Micro V-Card” Word Clouds

I love words, and Sam Lawrence reminded me of just how much when he Twittered an experiment he cleverly ran with Many Eyes . Sam provided visualizations of the way the datasets of some of the top bloggers he was interested in tracking, produced word clouds which in turn provided a glimpse into the psyches or at least current passions of the writer/blogger/thought leaders whose words he analyzed and visualized.

Well, a clever stratagem and one that worked for Sam, not only in allowing folks to take a critical look at how “loudly” certain words played in their own or others’ conversations, but also by brilliantly encouraging a further look into the work he is obviously doing well in dissecting patterns in cross-departmental collaboration Words were the bait, further ego-boo was the absolute dragnet. Almost ½ of the “thought leaders” Sam used in his experiment responded with comments in his blog post and many I’m sure took more than a glance at his previous posts and findings.

And speaking of appealing to vanity, I was quite shocked and rather overwhelmed to see myself in the next round of experiments, this time focused on women, as the first round seemed to be a “male only thing” as a few of us noticed. I enjoyed learning more about the women Sam selected and liked the diversity that his choices highlighted. Whereas the men had a common theme of PEOPLE, the women, had more eclectic word choices.

In addition, I noticed a number of folks in twitterdom running their own self-analysis. For example, I watched in envy as Goldie Katsu whose tweets I enjoy, created her own Goldie’s Gabs cloud. And it wasn’t any surprise to find People, Video, Life prominent in her most used words. (I have been frustrated in my attempts to register to the Many Eyes website, to create my own visualization and will have to contact IBM support it says)

Some of the loudest words surfacing might have been the result of the topical nature of some of the datasets. For example: Yahoo in the news probably created disproportionate Yahoo word cloud size, as someone commented. Since I am a relatively new blogger and not nearly as prolific or notable as Sam’s other women choices, my list was based on a data source of only 4,000 some odd words as contrasted to the 45,000 word sampling of the likes of Kara Swisher.

But regardless, it would indeed be a marvelous calling card to have our most oft used words associated with our profiles. I’m sure it is only a matter of time until someone supplies a widget to make that ability dynamic in blog posts.

For those familiar with the Strength Finder signature themes or those who once took the time and invested $35 to discover their strengths online (or as in my case many years ago, had their company invite them to participate in such analysis) it might be interesting to correlate the word themes, with the signature themes. I randomly checked out this gentlemen Steve Borsch

Steve Borsch's signature themes matched mine almost 1-to-1 (the exception was his Woo strength replacing my Empathy theme), but out of 34 possibilities Ideation, Learner, Strategic, and Input were aligned as themes.

Here's the interesting part for me. When I quickly flipped through his post and biography I found so many common touch points between us. Without knowing a great deal about him, I would even dare to say there were numerous similarities in some of the demographics: age, passions, interests, work experiences, family composition, at least by what I could glean by briefly reading about his interests.

I'd love to see how the "personality" type mappings align or contrast to Sam's micro v-card idea,as Sam calls it, which is boiling us down to our signature words as well as themes.

By the way, this exercise also evoked memories of a childhood passion I had for just sitting down with our 1963 Funk & Wagnalls and skimming the pages. (We couldn’t afford the more expensive Britannica and our’s was the supermarket “buy a volume a week” version with few pictures and lots of words). I wonder now how closely the words that spoke the loudest to me then, in those childhood moments, found their way into my present vernacular.

A big thanks to Sam for catalyzing all these activities and firing up these thoughts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sustainability Challenge– Collaboration Isn’t an Option, it’s a Requirement

Through the generosity of James Farrar SAP VP for CSR and support of Stephanie Raabe who helped launch SAP Feedingknowledge, I had the opportunity to attend the Economist Conference in NYC today titled: Sustainability Challenge- Addressing Environmental and Societal Demands on Business.

What better way to educate oneself around the topic of Corporate Social Responsibility, than to listen to panel discussions with some of the most informed thinkers in this sphere representing global (UN Global Compact), public sector US (EPA), corporate (Dupont, Orange Telecom, SAP, Jones LangLaSalle and Bank of America), and academic (Harvard University Kennedy School of Government) perspectives.

I know that James Governor, Thomas Otter and Dennis Howlett had received an opportunity from James Farrar to hear from and about Transparency International back in November in Berlin and I was sorely grieved to have missed that event because of my TechEd travels. This invitation was ample compensation and a real learning opportunity.

The event provided the audience of about 130 business leaders with fodder for thought around the following topics:

  • What does sustainability mean to companies around the world?
  • What are they doing well and where is more action required?
  • Does sustainability pay and how much does it matter?
  • Can this build shareholder value?
  • Sustainability obstacles
  • Business and government, markets vs regulation
  • What it the role of business
  • Where does that role stop

Vijay Vaitheeswaran, correspondent, for the Economist chaired the conference and I found him exceedingly adept at moving the panel discussions along by asking provoking questions, engaging the audience with the speakers and allowing each of the featured panelists to present their unique perspectives.

Each session easily warrants a separate entry, but I will try to summarize just one speaker of one discussion here.

A big takeaway came from a surprising source:

The title of the blog entry is a quote from Mark Vergnano, Group Vice-president of DuPont Safety and Protection. “Collaboration isn’t an option, it’s a requirement”. Pretty compelling (actually disruptive and disturbing) to think of Dupont as a force for sustainability. Vergnano described Dupont as a company viewed in the past as one of the largest polluters in the world. For me such companies are still tainted with the specter of Union Carbide and the tragedy of Bhopal (synonymous with chemical and industrial disasters) hovering. The images of Bhopal are lingering ghosts that haunt and inform our sensibilities about that particular industry. Perhaps the Dupont story is so compelling for the very reason that it was difficult to think of Dupont a chemical company partnering with BP resulting in attaining sustainability goals and reducing carbon footprint and yet, Dupont claims to not only have accomplished its goals but to have saved billions of dollars. As a number of the speakers pointed out, if the company had been “Ben and Jerry’s” or Timberlake, the impact of the sustainable growth mission of Dupont, a top-down driven, gunpowder company, would have been less dramatic.

Vergnano spoke of science as an enabler and collaboration as an imperative. If Dupont has indeed harnessed science and partnered with BP in order to get government on boarded with bio-fuel usage and has managed, as it declares, to have turned waste to energy and taken the unique science of two companies and through collaboration, succeeded in its goals, it is an interesting story indeed.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

8 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Me

When tapped to share “8 things you probably didn’t know about” James Farrar he noted that blogging is quite the “exhibitionist” activity. Much of my blogging experience these past years has been more in audience capacity; a vicarious blog explorer, rather than an active onstage character. Vicarious means I observe certain events by “imaginative or sympathetic participation in the experiences of another”.

Others’ blogs expose me to great examples of: storytelling, journalism, innovation and when done expertly well, art. While exploring, I’m often wondering what it would be like to write as prolifically or as creatively or as knowledgeably as the bloggers whose contents I follow. Fair, although hardly shy, I do feel a bit the wallflower while the nimble waltz me by with dizzyingly and dazzlingly clever insights, observations, perceptions and opinions.

I’ve imagined what I would write on the off-chance that someone might tag me for the “8 things you probably don’t know about me” meme. But I was caught off guard (gobsmacked as the brits would say) when I happened upon my name in James’ blog: the Wisdom of Clouds. It’s like someone asked the ungainly girl at the school party to dance to be nice. Thanks James.

Eight is a lot. I’ll start chronologically.

1. When I was 4, my sister was born on my birthday. For years afterwards I assumed that all families had that same arrangement, meaning siblings who were not twins also shared a common birthday. The realization that my belief system was faulty was very traumatic.

2. When I was about 8 years old, I separated from my parents while on board the Sternwheeler (steamboat) called the "The American". We were visiting an ill-fated and short-lived amusement park in the Bronx (New York) called: Freedomland U.S.A. There is a certain irony to all this. The year was 1960 and the civil rights movement was coming into its own with the Greensboro Four staging a peaceful sit-in at Woolworth’s in North Carolina, breaking down the segregation walls in the south. Back on the steamboat, my parents found me quickly. I was staging my own sit-in of sorts, in the steamship’s bandstand. There they found me sitting entranced on a trumpet player’s lap. His name: Louie Armstrong. I’ve always loved his voice and music.

3. When I was 10 I decided to have a “penny fair” and created an amusement park in my yard. I gathered $5.57 cents from all of our neighborhood children (a great many pennies). Although rather pleased with my entrepreneurial success, I wound up donating the money to a school for mentally handicapped children. The principal sent me and the neighborhood children a very nice thank you letter.

4. When I was 16 I discovered that although my sister and I shared the same birth date, it wasn’t the one recorded in our birth certificates. My mom had changed them both by a few days to give us the opportunity of starting kindergarten early. I think it was a shocking revelation that documents could be misleading or doctored.

5. At 20 I took a road trip across the US. It was the summer of ’74 and in California, after a day of many driving mishaps; I got pulled over by the police. I had gotten a ticket earlier that day for speeding on the freeway. While paying my speeding ticket, I parked in a no-parking zone. I then proceeded to run a stop sign. It was a bad-hair driving day.When I saw the flashing lights in the rear-view mirror I was baffled. Couldn’t think of a single additional infraction I might have committed other than the fact that our car was a real jalopy with only one workable door, totally dust-covered and we (my future husband and I) looked a bit like ’70’s hippies after our 6 weeks on the road. I roll down my window (I’m the driver) and ask: “yes officer?”, failing to notice the growing number of squad cars accumulating behind us. The policeman looks oddly tense. “Did you hear about the bank robbery?”, says he. “Oh sure”, says I., “I’m Bonnie and this” (pointing to my future husband) “is Clyde”. The policemen weren’t particularly amused as they pulled me out of the car thinking I was the fugitive kidnapped newspaper heiress turned militant, Patty Hearst .

6. I studied theater directing in the Tel Aviv University drama department. In 1979 I turned down an invitation by the national theater to assistant direct and work with theater luminary Joseph Chaiken on “The Dybbuk”. What we do for love. I was expecting my first child.

7. In the early eighties, before “Glastnost” and the subsequent transparency policies of Gorbachev, I went on a small mission to meet with prisoners of conscience and human rights activists in a number of cities in the Ukraine and found myself and travel partner “interviewed” by the KGB concerning our activities in each city. I think I’m a “persona non grata” in the former Soviet Union.

8. In the middle nineties started a grassroots movement of citizens concerned about environmental hazards and the rights of local residents and was invited to speak in the Israeli Parliament, together with my Bedouin neighbors.

Now, grannimari is quietly and sedately working as an online community evangelist for the Business Process Expert Community. And looking to the community members who inspire and challenge her thinking. In that spirit of letting no good deed go unpunished, I’ll tag: Jim Spath , Eddy De Clercq , Jen Robinson, Thomas Ritter, Dick Hirsch and Ram Tiwari

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chendamangalam - My kind of Shangri-La

November 24, 2007

Two days before the start of SAP TechEd Bangalore '07 we set out to visit Cochin in Kerla. From my scant knowledge of the history of this coastal town, we would find an amalgam of culture; Cochin having been home during various periods of history to Chinese settlers, the Portuguese, Dutch and English. We went to the bay to see the Chinese fishing nets and fisherman, learned from them of the inability to make a living from this activity beyond being a tourist attraction, visited a spice factory, tried unsuccessfully to book a homestay in the house where Vasco DaGama ended his days and took a cab out to the nearby village of Chendamangalam, which we had heard was home to four major houses of worship and disparate communities living side by side.

"The hillocks at Kottayil Kovilakom are unique as the site of a Hindu temple, a Christian church, a mosque and the remains of a Jewish synagogue, all within 1 km of each other." (Wikipedia)

"A popular account goes that the town of Chennamangalam was planned ... by a liberal and tolerant Maharajah who wished to have four major religious faiths equally represented in town. He designated a site on each of the cardinal points for the construction of a Jewish synagogue, a Christian church, a Hindu temple, and a Muslim mosque. At the crossing of the axis, so the tale continues, was the palace for his minister set on a hill."

Truth or fiction aside, we visited 3 of these sites and were warmly greeted by parishioners in two of the places where we found activity: the mosque and the Hindu temple. The synagogue was recently reconstructed but its worshipers were long departed and unfortunately we did not see the church.

I was particularly uplifted by the fact that these communities had for all intents and purposes, managed to exist side by side despite the religious strife and discord found in many other places in the world at the exact time that these house of worship were erected.

A ray of hope for the possiblity of peaceful co-existence...

Monday, January 07, 2008

Beyond holiday - putting a little "community care" in the luggage

Just as I was putting finishing touches on my personal end-of-2007 vacation itinerary and finalizing SAP TechEd '07 Bangalore plans, I met with James Farrar, who is VP of Corporate Citizenship at SAP and author of the sustainability and CSR blog: Wisdom of Clouds. This coincided with a growing interest of the SAP community members in such matters and plans for the launch of a new area under the Business Process Expert Community called Corporate Social Responsibility.

I was very excited about the inauguration of the website: SAPfeedingknowledge and our SAP Community initiative to help provide "Food for Points".
But here I was ending the 2007 year with personal plans for a full month's break/vacation itinerary and the longest hiatus ever from my engagements with the SAP SDN and BPX community....or was it to be so? Was I to be a voyeur or an emissary in my travels, or a bit of both.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd, 2007, my 16-year old son, Dahn and I set out for Bangalore with further plans for Cochin, Madurai, Vietnam and Cambodia. Upon arriving in Bangalore, we had arranged to link up with my dear friend of (gasp) 35 years, Naomi Tocher. Naomi is a Kiwi who, ever since we met volunteering together on a kibbutz in Israel those many years ago, has dedicated her life to working in social services and of late heads support services for interpreters and translators in New Zealand. Naomi, Dahn and I had been formulating our travel plans together. Naomi had almost apologetically suggested we detour a bit from the usual tourist stuff and get to interface with locals. She had many personal contacts from within the Cambodian and Vietnamese refugee resources she worked with, and so was able to broker some "home stays". She also raised the possibility of our visiting a Children's home outside of Madurai and perhaps a rehabilitation hospital in Cambodia and made the tentative arrangements.

We agreed, never guessing how the worlds of exotic adventure travel and a more humanitarian and human set of experiences would coincide.

What follows are some journal notes from one of the most intriguing, disturbing, inspiring and moving trips I have ever had the privilege of taking. And truly, thanks to all those that contributed to this enriching journey: family, friends, work colleagues and the SAP Community, which in this hyper-connected world of ours is also a combination of all those entities.Especial thanks to the generous, brave, kind and helpful people of all those places we visited. I hope to tell some of your stories.

December 1st, 2007

We call the Illam "Children's Home" (orphanage) in Nilakottai near Madurai and ask if we can visit and what we can bring. School supplies? Books? They modestly say fruit. So armed with the only shopping bag at our disposal we head off for the market to buy 70 kilos, one for each child we visit.

We are greeted by Mr Khader, the head master of the school. We are welcomed and introduced in the most delightful way. You can see more photos of our day with the students here.
Everything resonated goodness. The foundation DHAN associated with the school has a microfinance program at work helping empower women in the community. The school absolutely indoctrinates the children with the goals of professional achievement. And these children, many of whose families, if they have any, are so destitute that they cannot afford to have them schooled, are also imbued with a pay-it-forward education. Each child successfully completing this program has vowed to help another child achieve those goals as well.
And if I understand it correctly, this whole project started through an individual's vision and dream. Her name is Jean Watson, and she is a 74-year-old Wellingtonian (New Zealander) who spends some of her time with her community in India. I've just finished speaking with her by phone in Wellington and thanking her for the gift she unwittingly gave us as well. As I write this, my friend Naomi shares her correspondance with Jean.
Naomi writes to Jean:
"We received a beautiful welcome from the children, Gero, some teachers and Mr.Kadher. After a traditional welcome, the children danced for us, showed us around their home and talked with us. We sang them a song and began to teach it to them. We had a scrumptious lunch - the cook is a real find. We also visited the lush garden at the back of the Ilam and learnt of your future plans for it.
I promised to bring back love to you from everyone at the Illam and let you know about the visit. They talk about you all the time and are looking forward to you being back with them.Jean, you are a real inspiration. I am so impressed by your foresight and your commitment to follow through on your vision. And what a satisfying result it must be to have a houseful of such lively, happy and talented children. I am particularly impressed by the encouragement given to each child to be successful in their life, and even more by the "obligation" that they will help another child."

Genromani volunteers as a teacher and Mr. Khader encourages the students who engage with us, to share with us some of their dreams and aspirations: computer engineers, teachers, health-care givers abound in the breathless and excited gaggle of grins and curiosity about us. These kids have lofty goals. And they make us believe they will attain them. We came to bring gifts. The truth is we received them. Amazing what ordinary people can do....feeding knowledge.