Open spaces and smiling faces: that’s what greeted me upon walking into SAP’s new AppHaus in Palo Alto. Every wall was dressed from head to toe in post-it notes and tattooed with dry-erase marker. The space practically shouted “innovation!” and I was lucky to hear its call. Immediately hooked, I could tell that my experience as an intern for the Design & Co-Innovation Center (DCC) would be special.
As a design entity within SAP, days in the AppHaus are filled with project meetings, ideation sessions, design discussions, etc., and as a marketing and social media intern, these were the last things I expected to be involved in. Needless to say, my expectations were shattered just a few days in when I was thrown into a project ideation. From that point on, collaboration became an ongoing theme within the AppHaus. However, what made this exchange of ideas really stand out to me was the diversity amongst the collaborators.
“Diversity amongst the collaborators” – what on earth could that possibly mean? Well, let’s be honest: every company, on some level, collaborates. Marketing teams collaborate to define outreach strategies; engineering teams collaborate to develop efficient algorithms; sales teams collaborate on sales techniques. In this regard, SAP’s DCC team is no different. However, what makes the collaboration that happens here so exceptional is the team’s hunger for diversity of ideas that come from a variety of contributors. For example, I, a millennial marketing intern, am currently offering ideas and insights for a project that is re-designing a web-portal. On the project team there are people – young and old – from all over the world, each with a unique background and expertise. This plethora of perspectives and range of talent enriches every design decision and is a large reason why the work done here is so great.
Beyond this diversity of people within the team, everyone dedicates time to ideate and critique projects they may not be working on. That way, the collective brain power and perspective of the entire team touches every solution. I soon came to realize that while there are many moving parts within the DCC, it is really one unified team with a common goal. Even the AppHaus itself, with its open layout and creative vibe, helps enable this cross pollination. Fresh ideas are inserted into discussions and blossom through iteration, and as a result, the solutions that emerge speak for themselves.
This summer has made me a firm believer that this type of diverse collaboration is what ultimately catalyzes innovative, user friendly solutions. Now, when I walk into the AppHaus, I look forward to dressing the space with my own post-its, and tattooing my own ideas on the walls. I look forward to contributing thoughts during team discussions, no matter the topic. I look forward to turning innovative ideas into reality through this incredible, diverse collaboration that surrounds me.