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Collaboration is Hot … Very Hot: Process and Culture

November 12, 2010 - 1 Comment

More than technology, collaboration is about process and culture

Today I’d like to talk about how you sustain a collaboration effort and keep it moving forward inside your organization.

Collaboration is much more than an IT capability – it is also about process and culture.  At Cisco, we recognized this point and realized we needed to create an active, engaged internal collaboration and communications board to drive our process internally.

So we established a board composed of functional leads from throughout the company:  IT, legal, finance, sales, corporate communications, corporate positioning, marketing and the engineering business units.  The board meets every two weeks for two hours and has responsibility for creating the overall Cisco vision.  It also has responsibility for deploying our integrated workforce experience (IWE) across each function.

We also developed sub-teams to look at process, culture, and business rules. For example, our HR and legal board members have looked at what process and rules need to change as we introduce collaboration as a new way to work into the enterprise.  In addition, our finance and Internet Business Solutions board members defined the business value and benefits.

Ultimately, we believe a more collaborative way to work will ultimately lead us to become a “dynamically networked organization.” What do we mean by this?  Our CEO John Chambers describes a dynamically networked organization as one with a structure that lets us pivot quickly to address market transitions as they occur.  IWE gives us the right technologies to participate with impact. IWE communities provide a place to assemble virtually with all of the right people and, perhaps equally important, all of the right data on hands both structured and unstructured to take an active part in cross-functional initiatives throughout Cisco.  We also believe this will accelerate decision making, resulting in faster time-to-market and overall increased efficiency, leveraging each others’ work.

Most companies are matrixed organizations.  Looking into the near future, we believe work will get done as dynamically networked organizations – connected by the projects and programs we work on.  Our communication and collaboration board is just one example – but ultimately, this new way of working collaboratively will become pervasive across all levels of the organization.

In closing, I’d like to share with all of you that next week I’ll be hosting the customer track for Cisco’s annual Collaboration Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.  We’re expecting 25 of our major global customers to participate.  I’m looking forward to learning more about how our peers in business as well as in academia and the nonprofit worlds are employing collaboration across their organizations.

Happy collaborating!

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  1. What are some of the specific methods that you have found to be most effective in becoming more internally collaborative and in collaborating with customers and other key stakeholders