On the Matter of John Schwarz: Thank You

In my post on SAP Sapphire 09,Day 1, I was generally very happy with what I saw SAP doing at Sapphire this year. Very happy.
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor

In my post on SAP Sapphire 09,Day 1, I was generally very happy with what I saw SAP doing at Sapphire this year. Very happy.  But I was concerned about a couple of things including a comment that John Schwarz, SAP Executive Board member made about the reduction in force that SAP recently had.  Based on some thinking on my part and some feedback from someone I trust, I want to clarify a few things.

Please be crystalline on this. I have no personal animosity toward (nor a personal relationship of any kind with) John Schwarz. In fact, I find him to be a quite admirable guy who built a company that I've always respected (Business Objects). He has served his customers well over the years.  That said, I also want to make it clear, if it wasn't, that I don't think he thought or thinks that the people who were let go were actually useless or just meat that's been cut from the bone.  I know from observation that he is not that kind of person and when I asked those who knew him, his decency was confirmed. It was an unfortunate choice of words, and that was what it was. Period.

I apologize to him personally if he has any concerns whatever that this was personal. It wasn't and I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea.

I still think, and I want to make it clear that someone of his stature and experience and reputation has a significant impact with what he says and thus has to be careful about how he says it. I stand by that unequivocally.  The statement was a mistake.  But by no means does that mean it was anything more than a mistake for which some accountability has to be taken.

To his great credit, he has taken accountability and for that I applaud him. Please read his statement, posted on this blog as a talkback to the Sapphire last night and now in this particular entry (see below).  That willingness to stand and do what's right doesn't happen that often. More often that not, mistakes are just ignored, with the hope that they can be disregarded to oblivion. In this case, Mr. Schwarz took responsibility, and when someone in his position does that, he shows what a real leader and man of character does when faced with some adversity.

For that, thank you, John Schwarz.

This is John Schwarz's response to the blog entry, posted as a Talkback last night:

Paul, I would like to clarify a misunderstanding with regards to the words I had used in the Sapphire press conference that triggered your comments . My comments were focused on customers and investors and were meant to reassure them that despite the actions we are taking to respond to the tough economic environment, SAP will continue to innovate and deliver on our product roadmap commitments. Our focused portfolio and improved productivity give us confidence that even in the constrained environment we can get the job done.

I regret extremely the impact on people of the recession in the economy, particularly on those people that are SAP employees. I am proud of the employment opportunity SAP generates for people all over the world.

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