I have been reading “Doing Both: How Cisco Captures Today’s Profit and Drives Tomorrow’s Growth,” by Inder Sidhu, Sr. VP, Strategy and Planning, Worldwide Operations at Cisco. For example, he begins through use of examples how a company can pursue both growing the current business and developing the disruptive innovation that will propel the company into a new growth curve.

This message resonates with me. For most of my life when presented with an either/or proposition, I wonder things like “how about both” or “how about something else instead.” An either/or choice that eliminates further available choices or that are not mutually exclusive is called a false dichotomy. You run into those all the time. This is a great book if for nothing else, it awakens you to choices.

But I was particularly struck by this passage that any of you working in an organization will recognize immediately:

“Despite all the gains made, both inside and outside the company, some Cisco leaders resisted the changes. Several asked for transfers, and a few even left the company. One reason: The new organizational culture put an end to the ‘blame game.’ If there was a problem, it had to be fixed by Mendez’s team. No more blaming a vendor, another Cisco department, or some outside force; if it impacted the supply chain team, it had to be fixed by the supply chain, Mendez insisted. As much as anything, the mindset and culture of the organization had to change. Employees had to accept accountability, anticipate and embrace change, and work together as a cohesive unit.”

Wow, does this hit the mark. In my brief experience as quality assurance manager for a manufacturer, my boss kept telling me “don’t try to solve the problem; write a memo to the manufacturing engineer (or whomever) and copy the general manager.” Nothing ever got done that way. I’d wind up out in the press room helping adjust dies or whatever else would get good quality parts out. It was a no win situation. We happily parted company.

Any of this ever affect you?

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