I, like many, have been reading a great deal about the much storied Steve Jobs. Fast Company published an article called "An HR Lesson From Steve Jobs: If You Want Change Agents, Hire Pirates" written by Peter Sander. Here is a small excerpt from the article:
"'It's more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.' This quote, made back in the days of the original Mac development team, says a lot about how Steve viewed people and selected them for teams. It also speaks to the kind of team and team behavior he admired. To build a team, all organizations seek the best and the brightest people, particularly for their innovation and new product development organizations -- that's not what's in question here. By seeking out the pirates, Steve took the idea a big step further.
A pirate can function without a bureaucracy. Pirates support one another and support their leader in the accomplishment of a goal. A pirate can stay creative and on task in a difficult or hostile environment. A pirate can act independently and take intelligent risks, but always within the scope of the greater vision and the needs of the greater team.
Pirates are more likely to embrace change and challenge convention...So Steve's message was: if you're bright, but you prefer the size and structure and traditions of the navy, go join IBM. If you're bright and think different and are willing to go for it as part of a special, unified, and unconventional team, become a pirate."
So I'd like to think I am a pirate of sorts and that the executives of SAP are, like Jobs, interested in the best and the brightest. But more than that, I have to believe that they want to hire those people who can "see the greater vision and the needs of the greater team," and that are willing to "go for it as part of a special, unified, and unconventional team." Because in today's world, conventional thinking only gets you so far. It is the intelligent risks that pay big dividends. But creating this and still integrating with other "pirates" and other perhaps more traditional organizations are crucial to success in a giant company. Failure to do so can likely result in the sinking of the pirate ship.