Cisco's strategy shake-up is disappointing and vague


Cisco's strategy shake-up is disappointing and vague

As reported today on, outspoken Cisco CEO John Chambers has moved to quell internal unrest and conceded that the company has disappointed its investors and confused its employees.

In an attempt to gain the upper hand, Chambers set out a number of "targeted moves" which will be based on "uncompromising integrity and represent a simple set of guiding principles".

But as principles go, they are incredibly vague and give no clues as to what Cisco is actually going to do...

First, Chambers pledged to "not fix what's not broken", saying that in its five priority markets, which are core routing, switching and services, collaboration, data centre virtualisation and cloud, architectures and video there will be "no disruption".

Fair enough so far.

Secondly, Cisco "will take bold steps and make tough decisions," continued Chambers. "With change comes disruption and you will see this necessary and healthy disruption as we make meaningful decisions in a timely, targeted and measurable way."

Is this shorthand for redundancies? What sort of decisions need to be made? This statement merely opens up more questions for Cisco-watchers than it answers. Give us some details, John!

Cisco's third move will be to "accelerate our leadership across our five priorities and compete to win in the core".


Finally, said Chambers: "We will make it easier for you to work at Cisco, as we make it easier for our customers and partners to work with Cisco."

Oh come off it, John! By any measure Cisco has been pledging to make it easier to work with for the last decade. For a vendor to say it will become easier to work with is fundamentally meaningless. It says nothing. If this was actually any kind of statement of intent, Cisco should by now be so easy to work with that it ships goods before you know you want them.

Look, okay, we get that there are rules, regulations and competitors. But as a strategic plan goes nobody, least of all Cisco's 71,000 employees, has really learnt anything at all! Chambers might as well have kept his mouth shut.

This was first published in April 2011

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