Monday, December 22, 2008

Cisco Is Democratizing

You may know Cisco from their routers and switches that you can buy at most computer/technology stores, but now you may come to know them by their new, "revolutionary" business model.

Cisco is democratizing. According to legendary CEO of Cisco (and staunch republican), John Chambers, "The goal is to spread the company's leadership and decision making far wider than any big company has attempted before, to working groups that currently involve 500 executives.” In other words, Cisco is giving the decision making power of its executives back to its citizens. Formerly, “all decisions came to the top 10 people in the company” and the orders were sent back down from there.

Secondly, Cisco is encouraging an ownership mentality of its citizens by initiating a “new financial incentive system” that is causing “executives to work together like never before.”

Thirdly, "Cisco citizens are blogging, vlogging, and virtualizing, using social-networking tools that they've made themselves and that, in many cases, far exceed the capabilities of the commercially available wikis, YouTubes, and Facebooks created by the kids up the road in Palo Alto."

What is the result of all these “revolutionary” changes? John Chambers is most proud of Cisco’s ability to execute their collective decisions. Chambers noted, "The boards and councils have been able to innovate with tremendous speed." "One week to get a [business] plan that used to take six months!"

Cisco is democratizing our world. As a result of Cisco’s success, Cisco is sharing detailed case studies of their experiences and best practices with companies like AT&T, General Electric, and Procter & Gamble, and with customers in emerging markets from Russia and China to Mexico and Brazil. "We did it first ourselves; now we teach our customers. And the neat thing about it is that they'll use our technology to do it."”

(quotes taken from Fast Company’s article, How Cisco's CEO John Chambers is Turning the Tech Giant Socialist)

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How Will You Measure Your Life?

I recently read this article by Clayton Christiansen out of Harvard entitled, “How will you measure your life?” It is what he tells his students on the final day of his class.

One of the items that he mentions sticks out to me. It reads as follows:

“One of the theories, . . . . . how to be sure we find happiness in our careers—is from Frederick Herzberg, who asserts that the powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. I tell the students about a vision of sorts I had while I was running the company I founded before becoming an academic. In my mind’s eye I saw one of my managers leave for work one morning with a relatively strong level of self-esteem. Then I pictured her driving home to her family 10 hours later, feeling unappreciated, frustrated, underutilized, and demeaned. I imagined how profoundly her lowered self-esteem affected the way she interacted with her children. The vision in my mind then fast-forwarded to another day, when she drove home with greater self-esteem—feeling that she had learned a lot, been recognized for achieving valuable things, and played a significant role in the success of some important initiatives. I then imagined how positively that affected her as a spouse and a parent. My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more [people think] that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people."

I’m sure you can see why it sticks out.