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In the biginning of 2018, many SAP Japan employees got hands-on experience to consider each own purpose why we are working for, during assembling artificial "hands" as a CSR activity.

What we experienced and shared as SAP Japan employee

It was a day of SAP employee assemble at the start of 2018. Such event is always broadcasted as live online to other branches like Osaka, but there was an announcement to come to Tokyo, thus roughly half the SAP Japan employees got together in SAP headquarters in Hanzomon Tokyo.

At the entrance, we received a piece of paper with seat assignment and sat in a group of three with other members probably meeting for the first time. There was a package in front of us, described “Do not open until there is instruction”.

Okay. This is some kind of training and that is why we all gathered in Tokyo. Then, there was instruction from Bill John, a CEO of an external company called Odyssey Teams Inc. to open the bag.

In the bag, there were brown plastic parts, metal weights, small pins and springs and several hex wrenches for precise assembling and so forth. One of the parts caught my eye that they looked like big jaws of stag beetle. What are they? We anyhow started to assemble as directed in the manual. Put the jaws alternately, pin them and…?

What are we making? The meaning? What is this workshop for?

What was #OdysseyTeams and #HelpingHandsLive

After ten minutes or so, the lights turned down and Bill showed us a video.
“There are more than 300,000 people who congenitally no hand/hands or lose the function because of land mine, bombing or some kind of accident. And what we want to do is giving “hand” as many as possible. What you are making is two hundred of “hands” in fact.”

There were all ages of people in the video - shaking hands, writing with a pencil, brushing teeth, eating with a spoon, riding bicycle, all using the brown plastic “hand”. They all looked so happy. It was a moment I realized that using hand means to live with self-help.

We were there not for training but for manufacturing “hand” as a volunteer given with sublime mission. When we recognized the “purpose” with a mission, I felt the atmosphere had changed in. I thought it gained steam.

In fact, the event had expected six hundred attendees which will be making two hundred “hands” with parties of three.  But there were several vacant seats and someone told, “Call colleagues and let them come here!”. Also there was a word of asking “Any volunteer to make additional sets” at the same time, amazingly two hundred finished “hands” were completed just within one and a half hour.

The moving moment while working

I was not sure even unexperienced people like us can really make “hand” which endures daily use? We all were half in doubt.

I became more careful to the work after I realized the mission. There was an instruction that plastic or metal parts not to come out from the surface with a care for users to prevent they get hurt. So while putting pieces together one by one, I carefully rubbed the surface thinking of users. The stag-beetle-big-jaw-like parts were for the role of fingers. Three static fingers and moving two thumbs allow to hold an object.

As it firmly holds an object, user can write in pencils or grip handlebars of bicycle. By bending the wrist of it, the “hand” opens up. Both holding and releasing actions are very easy thus it may fully alternate functions of hand.

In addition, there are various ideas on the product such as a belt to attach “hand” with arm, a cushion in between “hand” and arm to protect arm from getting a sore. Resin parts are exclusive to this kit but jigs such as pins or springs are general materials which enable sourcing at low prices. You would also know it is built with excellent designs, in functions, care for users, easy assembling even for laymen in a short time with just a paper manual. If you knew and experienced them, you may have a great impression.

There are various attempts other than the product so I hope you will find the secrets by yourself.

If you do a search for “artificial arm”, you will find numbers of technologies which have conducted research and development in materials or looks tried to make ones close to “human hand”. But you may also find there is a huge price barrier on it. For example, German artificial hand distributed in the country costs 1.5 million yen, or another one costs 0.4-0.5 million yen even though it challenged to lower the price even in a domestic product. Thus, we need to overcome this price constraint to carry out the principle. In fact, Odyssey Teams is generally selling this kit and it is available to order with 295$ in which I can say it is price-slashing. Even individual persons can order it.

Why are you working for?

As one of the participants, I deeply thought of various aspects in a short time through the work to assemble a “hand”. “What is really required for those who do not have hand/hands?” “What is a barrier to realize the principle?” “Designs of product, business model and business process model should align with the principle” and so forth.

Of course, I won’t forget the feeling of joy when I found the purpose of work this time.

SAP Japan held this training with a message that “Reconsider your purpose and mission of work and what are you working for.” Employees have asked to set our own purpose and mission as annual objectives based on this training hoping “to improve the quality of work and find joy with awareness of own purpose and mission”

I wrote this blog as an outcome from the workshop. We all received this key chain instead of training certification. I am going to hung it with my ID card strap to remember the feeling of this experience.



I considered the business process model Odyssey Teams had innovated. If you have a few minutes, please read following paragraphs!

A "Business Process Model" to achieve the goal

There were various attempts not only on the product to realize team principle of giving “hand” as many as possible.

How has Odyssey Teams been kept this principle in business?
Let’s see how they twisted the idea with a business process model analysis where SAP is good at.

In discrete manufacturing industry, there are several production systems such as Job-order production to meet customer needs or mass production which sells uniform products. Why artificial hand is so expensive is mainly due to its full “Job-order production”. If we could transform the system to mass production, the design and assembly costs will drastically be cut. Also, adopting general parts may reduce the sourcing cost. There is also a side benefit to use general parts as it allows easy repair when it broke down.

In SAP, we divide the world businesses into twenty-five industries and each of them has a business solution map. This “hand” may probably be classified as mass-produced high-tech product with no configuration, so let’s see the specified map below.

As you can see, there is “Product Innovation and Sourcing”, “Supply Chain”, “Manufacturing”, “Multichannel Sales and Marketing” and “Customer Service” as core systems. It is necessary to sustainably operate these core processes to handle business. Odyssey Teams Inc. has already been operating their own core process with twisted ideas for ten years to realize their principle.

As commented, there is an effort to reduce product cost and realize easy maintenance with “Product innovation and Sourcing” and “Customer service”. Then, they added a twist – an accessibility to CSR on “Manufacturing” and “Supply Chain”.

To sustainably operate core process, it is essential to provide driving forces of people, goods and capital. Especially this kind of mass production where requires hand working, those will be a difficult challenge. Then what Odyssey Teams did was to proceed “manufacturing” process as a volunteer work and established a new business model in combination with “corporate training with CSR activity”. Commonly, they got moving force from assembly workers with training fee instead of paying wage to them. We SAP had participated to the process of making two hundred hands as CSR activity, but SAP itself was willing to do so because the company wanted employees to take the training.