Cisco Blogs

Freedom from Your PC

Shortly after fellow-Canadian Douglas Adams published his acclaimed book”Generation X”, I ran into him at a party in Vancouver, British Columbia. I remember talking, not only about the book, but also its premise that Generation X society was about the dissolution of traditional themes-the nuclear family, the”fixed” home,”lifetime” employment. I remember posturing that Mr. Adam’s characters were pursuing a newfound freedom in a prosperous society-yet were isolated by their own pursuit of that goal. It was a conversation that influenced much of my own outlook on the world as well as has reflected my own experiences with my virtual family, my incredibly mobile lifestyle, and my own hopscotch through employment.For me the workplace has been rife with incredible experiences and wonderful people. What’s common to all these experiences is that they were dependent on a technology referred to as the PC. It was the hub for how we worked together. But now things are changing-and fast. I remember presenting to a group of investor bankers in 2000 who were more interested in the quakings of their BlackBerry pagers than my presentation. It is interesting that I remember their focus more than the content of my own presentation. As with the characters in Mr. Adams book, while the PC brought the gift of innovation and productivity, it also became a new barrier to communication and collaboration. How many times have you been involved in an email war that could have easily been resolved if you could just talk to the person. Or where you’ve sat in a meeting where people are so busy communicating with the outside world that they forget to communicate with the people in the room?It wasn’t until I joined Cisco that my conversation with Mr. Adams came full circle for me. Around me I was seeing constant dissolution. Cisco is remaking itself as a collaborative company where board and councils replace command and control. Where the mission statement is being replaced by twenty-three priorities. Office and cubicles are becoming flexible workspaces where people assemble virtually and physically to tackle the task at hand. And most importantly, we’re seeing the content of those workspaces chance dramatically. Printers, fax and copy machines-the legacy of the document era-are slowing disappearing. The mobile phone and the desk phone are blending. And most interestingly, the computer and email are becoming secondary to getting people together in real time and non-real time to collaborate. And this dissolution is giving us the freedom to become a more nimble, faster moving, higher performance company.As we think about American Independence Day, we think about”freedom” given to the world by the Founding Fathers of this great country. For me, this freedom is about pursuing my hopes and dreams without inhibiting others to also do so. At Cisco, I experience this freedom in being able to be the person I am, work where I want to work, using the tools I want to use. It is the freedom to develop my competitive advantage as an individual, not at the expense of others, but so that the strength of the teams and relationships to which I belong become stronger.Last year when Cisco created its second-generation vision for unified communications, we made a couple of important assumptions. We assumed the mobile phone was more important than the PC. We assumed that no one wanted more email. (Come on, someone disagree with me!) We built a vision where the best expertise from anywhere in the world could be brought virtually to the table without regard for device, operating system or network type. It was an expression of freedom-the freedom to choose. I’m proud to be working and living in the United States yet part of the global team that is delivering a vision where everyone, everywhere is included in the collaborative experience. Only when everyone is included in the discussion can we conquer the toughest issues that face us all. And many of those discussion will never involve a Chris Thompson, senior director of solutions marketing for Cisco Unified Communications

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  1. Douglas Adams or Douglas Coupland?