The Sheep of Silicon Valley
Have you seen them? They actually exist. Right in the hustle and bustle of Silicon Valley…about a 5-iron from Cisco campus. Located just north of 237 and west of Zanker Road are: The Sheep of Silicon Valley. You can see the traffic of 237 on this video…and you can even see some of our (unnamed) competitors’ buildings…and others are nearby.
To be sure, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And, noone knows followership better than the actual, and proverbial, sheep.
But INNOVATION is what is the life’s blood of Silicon Valley. Not sheep. Not followership. These actual sheep (see video again), literally across the street from Cisco, made me think of some of those in the networking industry. As we celebrate our 25 years as a company, we have more competitors than we’ve ever had, and in essence, one competitor will say: “our box is better.” Another will say: “we know this (or that) geographic market better.” Still, another will say: “buy our entire company (PLEASE!!) and together we’ll be great.” And, one has said, “networks can’t be that different than printers, can they?”
Networks are the most important part of a company’s infrastructure. It is the platform for business, communications, commerce, collaboration, video, voice, data, virtualization…you name it. Which brings me to my point: Cisco invented the router. The network is what we do. Noone does it better than Cisco. So, while we are always pushed by our customers (and engineers) to innovate, we don’t focus on our competition…we focus on customers and their business needs.
As I drive past these (actual) sheep every day on the way to and from work, I think about what they do every day and I honor them. Like Cisco, they are good at what they do. Like Cisco, they have been doing it for years. And, like Cisco, they always have to be worried about the up and coming goat next door who is trying to take their job on a daily basis…but they know if they continue to execute and continue to focus on the customer, they’ll be just fine.