There’s never been a better time to do something amazing. Within Cisco’s Digitization office (CDO) we are living this every moment and embracing this mantra as part of everything we do. Cisco is in the midst of a significant transformation, from a traditional hardware business to selling our innovation through software deployed in the cloud with flexible consumption models. While we are changing internally, we are helping our customers navigate through this transition as well.

So where can we learn from other established companies who have made major transformations? The book, “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” talks about IBM’s historic turnaround from large mainframes to solutions, one of the biggest transformations of the past decade. Cisco is in the midst of an equal, if not bigger transformation and we are making huge pivots in every direction. The CDO team is driving changes across product, customer adoption, sales & several other functions.

One of the key insights from IBM’s transformation story talks about addressing the corporate culture as an integral part to drive change. The Women of CDO is a group of high potential women leaders who are driving this cultural change within Cisco. Many of us recently attended the Watermark conference on February 1st, for a day of learning and inspiration. We participated in an immersive series of sessions on leadership development, business transformation, disruption, personal development, etc.

The conference featured many notable speakers like Sheryl Sandberg, Madeline Albright, and Condoleezza Rice. Each keynote ended with a standing ovation and left the audience with powerful quotes:

  • “Happiness is not equal to pleasure, it is the joy you feel when moving toward your potential.” (Shawn Arbor, The Happiness Advantage)
  • “We are living in a time when women need to be United”; Bureaucracy needs disruption, not destruction.” (Madeline Albright)
  • “As long as you’re living a life, you have a story. Your story can change the world.” Viola Davis
  • “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly.”  (Breakout, Fear of change)
  • “There’s no limit to what you can do when you let others take credit. Let go of needing credit.” (Breakout, Reclaiming Civility)

We split out as a team and attended a diverse set of breakout sessions to maximize learnings back to our teams. We learned the power of the Connection Quotient (CxQ), going beyond Emotional Quotient and Intelligence Quotient, which have been in our vocabulary for a long time. A recent HBR study shows that 1/3rd of value added collaboration comes from 3% of employees. This calls for a need to leverage connections strategically to solve business problems and that is where CxQ comes in handy, to identify the right connections. Quora is a great tool to solve problems through crowd sourcing https://www.quora.com/ to capitalize the Connection Quotient.

Another great insight related to driving change that many of us found fascinating was that change not only requires us to let go of past failures but also successes and find new, innovative ways to reclaim success.

We are spreading the richness of our experience from this fabulous event, to accelerate the transformation that will change the Way We Work, Live, Play, and Learn. Are you ready?



Pooja J Kapoor

Product Management Leader

Digitization Office