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Lessons from LEGO To Drive “Out-of-the-Box” Thinking

Are your Master Builders free to create? Are your Ordinary Builders helping them to execute? And more to the point, are you acting like the evil President Business, hindering innovation, placing talent in silos, and keeping your organization frozen in the past?

If so, you may find an unlikely role model in Emmet Brickowski.

OK, Emmet may be an animated character made of plastic blocks, but don’t dismiss him so easily. If you are a manager looking to ensure your team is the best it can be, you may want to check out Emmet’s starring role in “The LEGO Movie.” I believe there is deep wisdom in what this little character has to say.

One of the key themes of the film is that many organizations adhere too strongly to their legacy traditions. Though such traditions may have served them well in the past, they can also sow stagnation and put a brake on agility and adaptability. This is especially true in the Internet of Everything (IoE) era, as a massive wave of network connectivity and innovation upends organizations, business models, and entire industries. In the process, longstanding assumptions around strategy and success are falling by the wayside.

Emmet lives in a world run by President Business, the head of a successful corporation that fears any change to the status quo. President Business will even resort to supergluing LEGO pieces to keep them in their rightful places. President Business divides the world into two kinds of people: Ordinary Builders and Master Builders. He rewards Ordinary Builders who follow the rules, building from their LEGO Kits; he disapproves of the “anarchic” creativity of the Master Builders, who like to improvise from a pile of blocks, and he is determined to capture all of them.

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As Technology Changes ‘Everything,’ Don’t Forget About People

In a constantly changing world, getting the right talent focused on the most pressing challenges is essential — not just for companies, but for service providers, cities, and countries.

Today, the key driver of that rapid change is technology, particularly the explosion in connectivity known as the Internet of Everything (IoE). Cisco predicts that IoE will have connected 50 billion “things” by 2020, compared to 10 billion today. But for all the talk of things, IoE is not just about embedding sensors in shoes, jet engines, refrigerators, and shopping carts. The true opportunity arises when people, process, data, and things are connected in startling new ways.

In such an environment, collaboration is critical. Indeed, IoE-related innovations have the potential to improve and transform our world in profound ways. But no one company can solve these challenges. They will require partnerships and the open sharing of ideas and talent.

Technology companies, in particular, will need to change the ways in which they utilize their talent. For many decades, there was one way to access talent — by hiring it. Today, workforces are flexible and may be spread across time zones and continents. Knowledge workers still contribute as employees on company payrolls, of course. But increasingly, they are just as likely to collaborate on a specific project as partners or as subject-matter experts sharing knowledge within cross-functional or cross-industry groups.

That is why I feel so strongly about a recent out-of-court settlement in Silicon Valley regarding the free flow of talent from one organization to another. Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe agreed to pay more than $300 million to 64,000 engineers who claimed that the companies’ hiring policies were hindering their career paths and access to higher salaries.

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Why Digital Business Ecosystems Really Matter

Striking a balance between the local supply and demand of human talent within tech clusters around the world will likely be an ongoing challenge. If you’ve been following my stories, then you may recall that back in December of 2012 I shared some observations and predictions about the evolving digital business marketplace in London, England.

The East London Tech City initiative – including the area known as the Silicon Roundabout – was again the focus of a market research report. According to the findings from a recent market study by UHY Hacker Young, a total of 15,720 new businesses were set up in this London neighborhood (postcode EC1V) during the last year. Much of the growth is attributed to the rapidly evolving digital and technology hub.

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Need to Cut Costs, Partners? Don’t Put Your Company Talent—or Your Future—at Risk

June 24, 2013 at 8:45 am PST

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This is the sixth blog in the Cisco Partner Talent series, helping partners attract, develop, and retain the right people with the right skills at the right time. This month’s blog post goes into detail about stage six of the Cisco Fit4Talent Employee Lifecycle: Succession Planning.

Based on my past few posts, I’m hoping you’ve been giving more thought to employee engagement and development. These are so important to building and retaining a strong team of contented, high performing employees.

In a fast moving, global and knowledge-based economy, survival depends on having a workforce that’s agile, creative and engaged, and that requires a developmental mentality. Business leaders need to take a more proactive and strategic approach in order to avoid wasting talent. That starts with understanding why certain cost-cutting measures, while well-intended, could actually be hurting your chances to develop talented employees.

So the question becomes: are you wasting your talent when you need it most?  Read More »

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Partners Protect Your Investment: Help New Employees ‘Break Up’ with Their Old Employer

February 27, 2013 at 9:12 am PST

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This is the third blog in the Cisco Partner Talent series, helping partners attract, develop, and retain the right people with the right skills at the right time. Last month’s blog shared talent attraction tips. This month’s blog post goes into detail about stage three of the Cisco Fit4Talent Employee Lifecycle: Onboarding.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe he wasn’t so bad. Maybe we should get back together.

Many of us have thought something like this at some point in our lives. But you might be surprised to learn that your new employees are having these same thoughts about their previous organization—and often from day one on the job

In many cases, new employees haven’t broken their emotional ties with their previous employers, nor established new ties with you. Humetrics, a talent recruitment and retention specialist, recently conducted employee exit interviews on behalf of a client, and found that as many as 20 percent of that client’s employees would consider returning to their former employer.

The reason? They said that hadn’t yet developed an emotional attachment to their new employer. And having that emotional attachment is critical, according to Humetrics, because emotionally-connected employees are the predictor of business outcomes such as productivity, profitability, customer engagement and turnover.

How can Cisco Fit4Talent help partners?
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