Mike Gotta - Cisco: Learning Internally Before Delivering Externally and Money's Cisco's display of strength
[Martin] De Beer a year ago set up an internal wiki called I-Zone that has so far generated 400 business ideas. "Better still," he says, "another 10,000 people have added to those ideas." His team measures which notions draw the most activity and cherry-picks a handful to unveil at Cisco's quarterly leadership-development program. Normally at such gatherings, promising up-and-comers from across a company hear lectures, bond, and ponder case studies. But De Beer decided to use these sessions to take the most promising I-Zone ideas and pound them into real-world business plans. Three of the nine notions so tested are now in active development.This sounds a bit like IBM's innovation jams which have been very successful in generating ideas and discussion across the organization.
This whole process has been an eye opener even for Chambers. He used to tell his staff, "I do strategy; you do execution." "He was amazed," says Ron Ricci, a former consultant who since 2000 has served as Cisco's internal culture keeper. "He said, 'We just did three billion-dollar market opportunities without my knowing about it.'"
In September  it launched a website that is a microcosm of everything evoked by the phrase "Web 2.0." There's a Ciscopedia, where people can build an evolving body of lore about anything fellow Ciscans might want to know.
This sounds similar to what Intel did with Intelpedia - which has been really great at providing support across a wide cross section of activities at Intel. Several training initiatives have made good use of content being created on Intelpedia.
There are text blogs and video blogs, discussion groups, and "problems and solutions links." There's an internal version of MySpace, which provides not only title and contact info but also personal profiles, job histories, interests, and videos. Soon it will show whether a person is reachable by, say, office phone, cell, IM, or telepresence, and offer a one-click connection.
Fantastic. Great way to find expertise and resources. Capture best practices. And support personal learning and networking.
And there's more. "We're going to use social bookmarking to allow us to take the pulse of the organization," says Jim Grubb, who built the website (and whose day job is putting together John Chambers' demos). They'll do that by aggregating the tags employees create into "tag clouds" when they click on sites. Tracking these will allow a Cisco honcho to get a snapshot of the current hot-button issues for marketing or finance. If an employee is tagged as the go-to person for virtualization, say, he could earn a bonus for this previously unacknowledged expertise. That's down the road. Asked for a here-and-now example, Cisco marketing head Sue Bostrom laughs (proudly) and recounts the six-month online campaign to develop and select a five-note "Cisco sound" for TV and Internet ads. "Ten thousand employees voted," she says, "and 1,200 partners also participated."Great description of what organizations can do.