Early on, Chambers learned to sense market transitions by listening closely to customers, connecting individual dots of behavior into patterns that indicated future trends. Later, he realized he needed to turn Cisco's management processes upside down to benefit from that foresight. In this interview, Chambers describes how he was able to surrender his role as a command-and-control CEO and institute a collaborative decision-making model that allows the company to respond speedily to emerging transitions. Managers throughout Cisco now form cross-functional teams, working together to identify and exploit new opportunities quickly. The model allows Cisco to simultaneously implement 22 major sales initiatives as effectively as most companies do one or two.
I came across the interview with Chambers via an item by Hutch Carpenteri n the RSS feed from The Connectbeam Social Computing Blog (although I cannot find the post on the blog). Carpenter quotes Chambers about how Cisco stays on top of changing market trends:
"I believe that only those companies that build collaboration into their DNA by tapping into the collective expertise of all employees - instead of just a few select leaders at the top - will succeed, as more and more market transitions occur at once."The you have it; the business case for Enterprise 2.0. Organizations should explore opportunities to improve collaboration in order to capitalize on the collective expertise of their employees. The principles and technologies behind social software present the most promising opportunities we can see right now.
I would not be surprised if Chambers have the following quotes on the wall in his office or written in a note in his wallet:
"The only irreplaceable capital an organization possesses is the knowledge and ability of its people. The productivity of that capital depends on how effectively people share their competence with those who can use it."
- Andrew Carnegie
"If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable."
- Lew Platt, former CEO of HP