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Korn Ferry suggests Cisco focus on

six talent priorities for digital repositioning

Our Solutions for Cisco

Based on decades of research into human behavior and organizational change, and experience in helping other technology giants such as Microsoft and IBM make pivotal course changes in the face of rapid digital advances, we have developed some insights that we believe might help Cisco shift its course quickly and with little or no loss of momentum.

Foremost among these insights is the observation that piecemeal alterations frequently fail, slowing performance growth, limiting ROI, and, on occasion, leaving organizations dead in the water. We believe super-organizations like Cisco should approach game-changing course corrections holistically, integrating six key talent levers across the enterprise.

1. Leadership teams should be aligned and prepared for the transformation. If they are to define the vision, clarify the business model, align talent and culture, and engage the organization, they too must grow and evolve. They should reimagine their purpose, creating and a clear, compelling direction. Team composition also needs to be reconsidered in terms of needed competencies and interdependencies. Teams also should establish new norms for how work gets done, and commit to processes and governance that foster the agility and alignment necessary for rapid, high-stakes decisions. Finally, they need to monitor their performance, and continue to make needed course corrections.

2. The organization needs to shift to a more agile, collaborative model that will drive rapid innovation, speed to market, and customer insight. Leaders should work together to redefine how “things get done” in terms of how people work, collaborate, and make decisions. Leaders need to model desired values and behaviors, and reward “big-picture” thinking, collaboration, and learning from risks. At the same time, they need to eliminate barriers to behavioral change and establish zero tolerance for bad behavior and “boundary skirmishes.” Finally, infrastructure, policies, and processes must be aligned to create an agile, high-performance climate.

3. Engineering leaders should be enabled to inspire innovation and drive collaboration at a faster pace. They need to be aligned and clear on engineering’s role and impact in driving broader organizational changes. They need to rethink and model collaboration across departmental boundaries. Pivotal roles need to be redefined in the context of new strategies, processes, and structures. Incumbents need to be assessed for these roles, and if possible provided further development to “grow” into these roles.

4. A new employer branding strategy should be created to attract the top talent needed drive Cisco’s new platform-based strategy. To sustain Cisco’s reputation, it will need to continue attracting top business leadership and engineering talent that can drive change and “connect to the world.” To compete, Cisco’s employer brand needs to have a consistent, refined “feel” and messaging that will attract and engage individuals who truly want to “innovate at the cutting edge of the connected world.”

5. A consultative and subscription-based sales capability should be created to replace the traditional product/services model. Key to Cisco’s success will be its ability to align its sales capabilities with its new business approach. It will need a more agile and technically savvy sales force, individuals culturally sensitive to the diverse market, who can incorporate data into their decision-making, articulate customized value propositions, and develop more complex, often enterprise-wide, solutions with elegance.

6. Cisco’s engineering workforce will need to be infused with software, consulting, and business skills. Engineering talent must be realigned so that the right skills and behaviors are in place to ensure rapid innovation and decision-making. Through thoughtful, strategic planning, Cisco must create a workforce of the right size, shape, and skill mix to effectively drive its new strategy. Such a workforce will need the creative and intellectual skills as well as the ability to network, collaborate, and interact with a diverse constituency.