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TheStreet Open House

Come Behind the Scenes of Tech Pioneer Cisco, Part 1

Stocks in this article: CSCOFBTWTR



Your point about rallying the troops is critical because it is important for our teams to feel empowered to solve the smallest problem to the largest issue with the ability to ask for help. I don't know if I have any secrets because I am very clear on the definition of success - which is to keep our focus on our customers and their mission and needs. In order to innovate we take risks and test out new ideas. The trick is to know when an idea has merit and to push forward and when to stop a trail and move on.

Keeping customers focused, I am clear about a few things:

  1. It is not about checking the box or being the "Ph.D. of the problem" but about being the seeker of the solution. I believe I have created an inclusive environment and a culture where people feel comfortable sharing their views, opinions and perspectives. It is important that this environment enables everyone to achieve his or her full potential.
  2. Failure is giving up or not learning from your mistakes. We all make mistakes. It is important to be self-aware of your strengths and your weaknesses because it makes it easier to ask for help. It is easy to see my development if I am clear that I must deliver for my customers. It is easy for me to ask for help or minimize the ego if I know I can solve a problem for a team member where a customer benefits.
  3. "Good enough" is not acceptable.
  4. I believe it is important to have a dialogue, discuss and debate prior to the decisions so that after the decision is made we all understand the clarity of execution. I don't have a lot of time for dialogue, discussion or debate after a decision.
  5. My final point on clarity, or as you have stated "my secrets for success," is that I want my team to know that I work for them. Sometimes I am providing a perspective, feedback or removing obstacles but the best is when you are directly involved with a customer opportunity or issue.

I have learned from my military customers that it is important for the troops to have clarity, vision and a mission that is larger than any one person, including the leader. Our vision in U.S. Public Sector is to "transform how our customers protect, serve and educate." We do that through our mission of "connecting, innovating and leader" with world-class products, solutions along side a set of world-class partners. Our external rallying cry is to "Serve those who protect, serve and educate." Our internal rallying cry is "One team, one fight." Everyone in the organization needs to know and live the vision, the mission and demonstrate the rallying cries.

I think this applies to small or large businesses in any vertical focused in any industry.

Question #3

Sad but true, most businesses view customers as only that: the engine that helps to keep the bills paid. But, customers stay customers in this competitive world if you go above and beyond to make them feel valued. How do you build and maintain customer relationships at Cisco? I can imagine Cisco deals with big accounts that if lost, would bring pain to the bottom line.

I'm fortunate to work with U.S. public sector customers, which are the people and organizations that have an impact on citizens' lives and their daily experiences with organizations' emergency response teams, schools or local and state government offices. We also support the Department of Defense, which is on the front lines for our country. The fact that my team has a role in their success is something that all of us can connect with on a personal level, which means they are never "just a customer."

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