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Collaboration: On the Field & In the Office

February 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm PST

Collaboration is great. But it’s not a Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, if-you-build-it-they-will-come Field of Dreams scenario. Alas, if all it took was plowing under a corn field and putting down some chalk stripes, I might be out of a job. And out of corn flakes.

We talk a lot about technology and process, but sometimes omit the human aspect. All the technology in the world won’t do much without people using it — unless you’re watching the Terminator machines attempt their takeover. And then there’s always HAL 9000. But those guys are a lot more interested in domination than collaboration anyway.

An organization’s culture is a critical component to successful collaboration. Make all the technology announcements and managerial pronouncements you want – you need an environment that supports collaboration. Read More »

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The Collaborative Buzz of Bees

November 18, 2011 at 4:58 pm PST

Rooftop hives at CiscoSometimes we forget that collaboration isn’t just something people do at work. In fact, it’s not unique to people at all. And some of the best collaborators out there in the world just ain’t people.

Bees, for instance. They don’t have fancy hardware, software, networks, and mobile devices, yet they’re amazing collaborators. I take that back, they do have networks – just not the kind with Cisco routers and switches behind them.

People are studying bees to figure out how you and I can improve our collaboration. By its own definition, The Biomimicry Institute “promotes learning from and then emulating natural forms, processes, and ecosystems to create more sustainable and healthier human technologies and designs.” A pretty neat idea if you ask me. Read More »

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I’m a People-Centric Collaborator

November 14, 2011 at 2:19 pm PST

Although Cisco identifies me with a five-digit employee number, an eight-character username, and a rather generic HR-devised job title shared by 467 other people, I really prefer to be acknowledged as a human rather than as a database entry.

True, my badge is oh-so-personalized with my name and photo, but I apparently looked alarmingly like I could be Harry Potter’s sister when the photo was taken more than eleven years ago. (Or so says a co-worker. I think it was the rather round eyeglass frames…) All that badge tells you is my name – and possibly that I might be good at wizardy stuff.

The concept of people-centric collaboration and corporate cultures is definitely an area of focus for me. I’ve worked in technology companies for more years than I have fingers (ok, and toes) and although my employers have appreciated my individual skills, they haven’t always given me the opportunity to be a person or encouraged collaboration. Read More »

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Innovation is key to becoming a ‘people-centric’ business

When I think of “Inclusion and Diversity”, I automatically think about creating a diverse and inclusive workforce environment: providing all employees with learning and development opportunities, ensuring employees with disabilities have the right tools and resources and educating all employees on how to work with people with disabilities, sending out regular communications on techniques for how to strengthen inclusion and diversity in the workplace and so forth.

Reading this article from UTalkMarketing.com this morning over a cup of coffee made me question my own definition of “Inclusion and Diversity.” I came to the conclusion that my view on this subject was far too narrow – I was focussing on it from a purely internal perspective and needed to think outside of the box and include an external perspective too. Inclusion and Diversity isn’t just about making your diverse workforce feel included; it’s also about ensuring that your customers feel included AND that their voices and their business needs lie at the heart of your business.

The author of this article, Chris Beswick, argues that businesses need to develop a relationship with their customers, look at the world from their perspective and appreciate the problems they face and the things they aspire to. Instead of focussing on their own products and services, businesses need to put greater focus on their customers’ problems and tensions – it’s not “what you do”, i.e. what you sell; what you provide, but rather “how you do it”, i.e. how you fuel innovation and differentiation.

Yet Beswick argues that true customer-centricity is only possible if you first become people-centric. In his words the only way you can provide an exceptional end-to-end customer experience is to ensure that everyone in your organisation understands how to collaborate on solving your customers’ problems.

How do you extend Inclusion and Diversity to your customers? Share your thoughts below.

Do you have an Inclusion and Diversity story to share? Please send it to idblog@cisco.com.

To read the full article click here

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