Imagine entering a room with mostly strangers, and being tasked with improving the company. That’s what the recent HackIT event was for me (there’s another this week!), and as I sat down at a table only knowing one other person, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. What I found was a team that became true friends, and worked together tirelessly to make an impact on Cisco.

From discussing the problem, and how we could potentially solve it through digitization and collaboration – we wanted to provide a more streamlined process to enhance the experience and strengthen it for both Cisco and our customers. Through these conversations we started to see our idea develop. And, just like that, the idea for DigiTRAC – the first real time digital shipment tracker for Cisco’s priority one business customers – was born!

With DigiTRAC, we wanted to ensure two things – that network replacement parts got to our customers in a timely manner, and that both Cisco and our customers could track the parts effectively. We even decided to integrate it with Cisco Spark so our customers  could get even faster responses.   We wanted DigiTRAC to provide real-time updates and tracking capabilities, allow for a more streamlined communication between Cisco and its Priority One customers, shorten network down time, decrease revenue loss, minimize damage to the brand, and increase customer loyalty – all while preventing lost opportunities and negative  financial impact.

It was incredible to see how our team, which consisted of people from various Cisco functions, rally  around this idea. And because our roles were varied this also enabled each individual on our team to shine and share their expertise from their field.

Our team meshed so well it was as if we had already been working together for years, and I wanted to share some of what I experienced to help you develop a quality team dynamic:

1.Communication – Not only were we constantly communicating via WebEx, Spark, and in person – we were open and honest with that communication. We spoke our minds without fear of having another team member judge or shoot down the idea, and discussed everything as a team, before moving forward in a direction we all felt comfortable with.

Before we even started working on this project, we learned about each other first – a key element I think most teams miss.  We got to know each other personally – what our teammates liked to do outside of work, what they were passionate about, etc. Taking the time to do this added the ability to see how our team members might be able to contribute outside of their role at Cisco!

2.Respect for Each Other’s Individuality – Everyone brought different strengths to the project, and various backgrounds, functions, and levels were represented.  Everyone was always treated with respect. One of the greatest things I noticed about this team was that we all truly wanted what was best for the TEAM. I’ve seen elsewhere that people become focused with having their moment in the spotlight during presentations, but when a HackIT judge advised we might want to try only having ONE presenter – it was a no brainer to us. No one was offended, no egos got in the way, and our team acted as one when choosing one teammate who would present for us.  I loved this about our team, and it speaks so much about Cisco’s people and overall culture. A team can’t exist without individuality and unique experiences and skillsets – it’s when we bring those all together, we can make such a larger difference in everything that we do!

3.Diversity – Especially Gender Diversity!  Having a team of three men and three women helped us to see the different aspects and ideas we all had.  No one ever said, “I know more about this than you, so that’s the direction we’re going.” Everyone’s input was valued.  This is what a team is all about!

We were all excited to learn and grow, and it resulted in us becoming more of a family than just co-workers. This is also part of the Cisco Culture! So many of us are constantly asking questions – How can I learn? How can I make this better? How can I connect with this person beyond just what we do at Cisco? – and it takes us all so much further in changing the world.

4.Our Team had a Mantra – “Don’t Settle!” When times got tough, as they always do — we just kept pushing, pushing, pushing! We met with anyone who would meet with us, and were constantly discussing  how to  make DigiTRAC better.  My greatest piece of advice would be – don’t settle for less than greatness, keep going! You never know if that next meeting or trial will lead you to success!

Our team made it to the HackIT Semi-Finals! And, while we didn’t make it to the final rounds, we are all still actively developing our friendships beyond DigiTRAC – I recently even participated in a volunteer event with a HackIT team member! We are still bonding and do our best to stay connected via Spark and WeBex meetings, but through this – our network is growing and our long term relationships are looking bright!

Want to work with a company that encourages you to innovate while making new friends? We’re hiring!



Lori Paschall

Hire & Engage Regional Manager | People & Communities

People & Communities