In its December '08 cover story, FastCompany magazine writer Ellen McGirt provides a fascinating view into Cisco's evolving form. Once a stodgy, traditional, technology nuts-and-bolts company, Cisco, as McGirt unveils, is becoming perhaps the first Web 2.0 corporation. Web 2.0 as in home-grown super-charged tools employees develop and use, in its enablement of internal social networking in service of collaboration and innovation, and in its deliberate efforts to break down barriers between organizational ranks.
But perhaps even more important, Cisco is becoming a leader as an innovative corporation. If you look closely, you can already see the seeds of what's to come: Web 2.0 is merely a mid point--it is not a destination reached. It is an important part of the social infrastructure that enables people and companies to democratize their culture and transform traditional models, decision making processes, and structured chain of command into fast, agile, continually evolving.
And this change is instituted from the very to. John Chambers, Cisco CEO embraces the notion of a social culture and with Cisco's new organizational structure, sees the company's working groups as equally capable of leading the company. With blogs, internal networks, and open innovation, Cisco's people, in a way, have become part of the company's DNA.
Perhaps the scariest notion for large corporations still hanging on to the old way of doing things is the idea of relinquishing control. Cisco understands that to survive and lead, it must surrender the old hierarchy and tightly controlled structure. "We want to add variability, not remove it." McGirt quotes Cisco's Chambers.
Since corporations are made of people--and the way people interact has evolved drastically with Web 2.0 and technological advancements of recent years--it has been long in the making that corporations will need to evolve as well. I am ecstatic to see Cisco's corporate innovation at work and will be tracking their transformation closely.