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SAP’s commitment to helping the world run better and improve people’s lives was as prevalent as ever at this year’s employee Field Kick Off Meeting in Las Vegas. By combining our CSR initiatives with Design Thinking methodology, we took skills based volunteering to a new level. We offered four Design Thinking workshops each centered on a different CSR initiative.

Design Thinking is a methodology that seeks creative resolutions to problems and issues.  SAP has been leading and driving this with our customer, partners and now with social causes. This type of thinking is a backward process as the starting point is the solution itself. Participants are tasked with defining the parameters that will optimize the path to the given goal. Design Thinking utilizes strategies such as brainstorming, empathy mapping and storytelling. There are many different techniques to Design Thinking, but the core of the process stays the same and is meant to deliver. 

The four design thinking sessions at FKOM focused on our non-profit partnerships across the Americas. They included:

  • Our New SAP Tech High Schools
  • Esperansap, our workforce development initiative in Brazil
  • Our new partnership with GenYouth Foundation
  • Échale a la Educación, a housing initiative in Mexico

A team of 30 employees per session took part in these unique volunteer experiences. Together they strategized on topics including donations, market visibility, teacher and student training initiatives and sustainable funding.

Session 1 was driven by our new TECH High Schools that will be opening in September 2014. These schools will feature an IT centric curriculum to create a pipeline of talent for our industry. Ensuring the schools’ teachers can teach the curriculum and convey the SAP culture is critical to success. Session 1 focused on strategizing and developing our teacher training program for this worthy cause.

Instituto Esperansap in Brazil is an SAP & ASUG initiative where unemployed, low income professionals or recent graduates can be selected for free SAP certification training. Since its establishment in 2010, Esperansap has already certified more than 650 professionals. The second design thinking workshop helped us create a sustainable model for funding this program that further engages SAP customers and partners. During the session each group proposed solutions to three challenges: how to increase donations, market visibility, and obtain more instructors and facilities.

Session 3 extends from our efforts to promote entrepreneurialism and healthy lifestyles in pre-millennials through the GENYOUth's Institute for Student Entrepreneurs and Leaders. The institute is intended to foster leadership and entrepreneurial skills for children aged 14-18. In this session employees were tasked to think about how they could train, empower and develop future leaders and citizen philanthropists in the health and wellness arena. Technology solution such as social networking, gamification and app development arose as the main concepts underpinning the development of student entrepreneurship.

Session 4 stemmed from our partnership with Échale a Tu Casa, a Mexican NGO that helps underprivileged families build their own homes and equips them with the resources and tools needed to succeed. Employees explored ways in which SAP can extend its reach and support to these families through additional educational initiatives.

The creative and innovative thinking that emanated from these sessions is a testament to how design thinking can help create solutions that solve problems better. This is just one of the ways we leverage our employees’ talent to make a bigger impact in the communities in which we operate.

If you are interested in participating in a Design Thinking session please stay tuned for upcoming opportunities.