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What was once familiar is now unfamiliar for everyone.  Expectations have been disrupted, goals are being re-evaluated, existing organizational structures and ways of working are being redefined.  It is a unique opportunity to bring wisdom, insight and creativity to solve challenging issues.

The Story of Sisyphus

Philosopher Albert Camus says the Myth of Sisyphus is a metaphor for the human condition: perseverance. Sisyphus was a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again and again… and again!  Camus calls Sisyphus the epitome of an “absurd hero”; or a person who experiences, simultaneous moments of hopes and trials because of his undeniable mortality.  Camus calls him the “absurd hero” because he continues to persist in the face of absolute struggle. Always embracing the concept that truth will conquer all, Sisyphus, keeps pushing that darn boulder up the hill. Sisyphus ultimately acknowledges the certainty of his fate, which frees him to reach a state of contented acceptance.  He is seen as a hero because he can first change himself and then the world. His circumstances don’t have to be useless or hopeless. Rather, he can grow, learn and thrive against all odds and that makes victory even sweeter. [1]

The lesson: With perseverance, no challenge is too big to overcome!

How Can we Translate this Lesson to Corporations?

In an instant, employees around the globe had to scramble to come up with creative ways to work remotely within their existing home environment.  Some people are working in tiny apartments on the kitchen counter or on the couch.  Other lucky people have converted the dining room into a home office.  Some people are utilizing their outdoor space as a combined office and social hub like never imagined.  This experience has been unsettling to say the least, but individuals persevered.  And this new experience, combined with perseverance, can reap great benefits if we are open minded enough to experience the advantages.  Sometimes when you are forced to start over without a well-defined plan, you find yourself in a better place.

New ways of connecting have been shaped.  In-person interactions with both customers and coworkers are replaced by virtual interactions from remote locations. Individuals have a new understanding of one another and are delivering quality experiences.  There is something interesting and personal about being let into another person’s home, albeit through a zoom call.  We have seen each other’s home environments and decorating styles (or lack thereof).  We have met their new work buddies…be it a child or a pet.  Organizations can benefit from this. Leaders can create a culture in which these newfound and cherished connections can thrive. This is a time for introspection, reassessment, and renewal to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.  A willingness to learn ways to do things differently helps build perseverance.  Organizations and individuals that think with a spirit of perseverance and agility are now thriving as the reopenings are occurring.

It is hard to predict exactly what the new normal will look like, but one thing is certain: the quality and content of the virtual customer and employee experience will matter more than ever.  At a time when both customers and employees are becoming more tech-savvy, a secure experience journey is a competitive advantage.  Data privacy and seamless access controls support this user experience while still giving the company and its stakeholders the regulatory and security controls it needs to operate with trust.

All the above has created an opportunity for the Finance organization to reinvent itself.  Finance has had to operate with more speed and decisiveness than is comfortable for most “bean-counters”.  We have had to relinquish control over tracking down every penny, and even every dollar to focus on making speedy, decisive maneuvers to get that rock up to the top of that hill, and to keep it there.  With this came the dependence on key employees who stepped up to a moment in time and proved themselves invaluable.  And what have we learned from this?  Is there any silver lining?  Yes, there is.  We have learned who our resilient and purposeful leaders are.  We have empowered people to do great things.

How do we keep this momentum going?  Embed a spirit of execution into your culture.  Lean into a mind-set that encourages innovation and learning to come together to accomplish a common goal quickly.  It has been shown that faster outcomes engender higher job satisfaction among employees.  Create teams of your hardest workers, your bright shining stars, and empower them with decision-making authority to do difficult things quickly.  Embrace this opportunity for transformational change.  Seize this moment to do game-changing things.  Designing an organization for agility and decisiveness will seize the moment and create powerful outcomes; including greater customer and employee experience, enhanced performance, and increased employee morale; and this is likely to prove to be the largest return on investment your company has ever experienced.

This requires perseverance.  Perseverance on the part of the employee and the employer.  During these times, employees need to take on more responsibility for execution, action, and collaboration.  Employees who are empowered to implement powerful ideas and innovation free up the organization for extraordinary impact.  To achieve these gains, employers should ensure that digital intelligence is in place to support remote working, collaboration, and trust while inspiring a new culture of cohesion, execution, and yes, perseverance.

Next Steps

SAP is well-positioned to demonstrate our value as we help our customers through new market paradigms to become stronger and more agile.  We are offering solutions, technologies and innovations that can support your business goals.  Our simplified, enhanced user experience and mobility options make the transition to new technology and work from anywhere innovations, such as SAP Access Governance and SAP Cybersecurity & Data Protection products, much easier to consume and use.


[1] Camus, Albert (1955). The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.