When meeting with some of my industry peers, I often get asked “How’s Cisco doing?”. In some ways it is a loaded question. On one hand, I think Cisco is doing extremely well considering today’s turbulent times. The innovation engine is humming along. On the other, it’s not being complacent either taking things easy. With a publicly stated goal of cutting costs by $1 billion by July, it’s a challenge that’s top-down and across the company. It’s fair to say a lot of these costs savings are through increasing operational efficiency and better collaboration. There are different ways to weather turbulent times. Solid cash and cashflow. Good M&A strategy. Good leadership, strategy and execution. Frugality. Sustained innovation coupled with operational excellence. If it were a multiple choice question, this is the one that you’d tick “E” — “All of the Above”. To a large extent it is about understanding market transitions, and being in a good enough position to drive some of it.Funnily enough, none of this is new. This stood us in good stead during the dot-com crash and technology-led bust of the early 2000s. A quick search on Amazon.com will reveal books like “John Chambers and the Cisco Way: Navigating through volatility” and “The Eye of the Storm: How John Chambers steered Cisco through the technology collapse“. I’ve often heard John remark, that Cisco has benefited tremendously by being a good listner, understand our customer requirements and working with them to execute. This time, our ears are perked up even more, as our customers and partners are challenging themselves (and us) to deliver operational excellence with limited budgets and without compromising on innovation. “Do more with less” is the clarion call.Cisco IT Innovation ForumThis is a challenge we have to resolve together with our customers and partners on a global basis, by proactive partnership, transparency and sharing best practices. Any product innovations are a means and not an end to deliver on our customer requirements.In line with this mindset, on May 7th, 2009, Cisco is hosting a Virtual IT Innovations Forum, an interactive platform that brings together our global customers, our solution partners, industry analysts and some of our own executive and technology talent from within Cisco to share best practices and ideas to weather this economic downturn and prepare for the upturn. Despite the seriousness of the current economic climate, a little humor never hurts. Thank God for Scott Adams. We’ve our own take on injecting a little humor. Some of it is reflected in these viral videos that our team put together to help promote the Innovation Forum. This one’s titled “The copier”Look out and watch for the other videos in the series. After you’ve had a good chuckle, or fallen out of your chair, go ahead and take the next step. Register to attend the Cisco IT Innovations Forum on May 7th. It’s FREE! You don’t have to leave your desk to hear some of the best minds in the business talk shop. What better way to foster Innovation? Or Operational Excellence? Or Both?I’ll share specifics around some of these sessions in upcoming blogs. For those of you, who absolutely cannot make it on the 7th, don’t lose heart. We’ll have these as on-demand sessions thereafter for a few months.In the meantime – before, during or after the Cisco Virtual IT Innovation Forum, you can interact with us on the CiscoGeeks Twitter Website, our various Facebook sites, or provide your questions or comments during some of the sessions on May 7th.