Is it time for Cisco to ditch its councils?

Is it time for Cisco to ditch its councils?

Summary: Cisco has been shifting management responsibilities to dozens of internal councils. Is this the root of its current woes?


Over the past couple of years Cisco has shifted management responsibilities to internal committees, or as many as 59 or more "councils".

John Chambers, CEO, has spoken about how it was initially difficult for him to change from the traditional top-down management structure. But he also said that the collaborative approach to management was working and making Cisco into a better competitor.

But was this assessment correct?

Therese Poletti, columnist at Marketwatch believes that the committee structure is not helping Cisco and should be ditched. And she found an analyst that agreed.

“That structure makes sense on paper, but you just wonder if people are spending too much time collaborating and in meetings,” said Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities.

...“People at Cisco are constantly going to meetings and a lot of PowerPoint presentations,” said White, who has a buy on Cisco. “I just wonder if everyone has the time to innovate as much as they would like or as much as the company would like. You are constantly shuffling around from meeting to meeting."

Cisco should ditch committee structure Therese Poletti's Tech Tales - MarketWatch

Cisco spokeswoman Karen Tillman told Ms Poletti that the councils would be reviewed by Cisco but would likely not be changed. "But I think what will change is the accountability,” Ms Tillman said.

Product managers etc, can be fired but it is tough to make a committee accountable and fire the lot. Maybe Mr Chambers will make an example of a committee or two in that way — as a motivator for the others?

However, can management by committee work for a tech company dealing with fast moving markets? Cisco is a large company, which already slows its reaction time. Committees are not known for speeding up decision making. Combining the two appears to be very risky.

Topic: Cisco

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  • RE: Is it time for Cisco to ditch its councils?

    Ditch 'em!! Then learn how to work with the consumer market!
    • RE: Is it time for Cisco to ditch its councils?

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  • RE: Is it time for Cisco to ditch its councils?

    What the hell does Cisco know about the consumer market? Stay with the core competencies; Routers, switches, firewalls(?) well, routers, anyway...
    Skipper Tom
  • What council killed the Flip cam

    IT seems a great disservice was done to consumers in the name of the bottom line when they killed the Flip cam. A truly great single use device (yes, they still matter!) from a company Cisco gobbled up for $590million, and then Cisco kills it like a bunch of dummies. What are we supposed to hand out cell phones or iPod touches to folks who want an inexpensive but great video recording device now? It was very useful in marketing agencies that needed to do site surveys, store evaluations, impromptu consumer research man-the-street... etc! The fact that none of this mattered when they killed it means they are way out of touch with consumers and if they buy a consumer company then that's what they have to be! Consumer karma is a b*tch!
  • But he lacks social skills

    I have a friend to whom I recommended Cisco stock, largely on the basis that The World hasn't finished building The Internet yet.

    But I was not aware of these "councils" and "collaborative management." That's a recipe for the schmoozers taking over the place, and the engineers getting so angry they leave. That would be OK if the company were Pepsico. But it isn't.
    Robert Hahn
  • RE: Is it time for Cisco to ditch its councils?

    It is certainly time for Cisco to ditch its sky-high prices!
    • RE: Is it time for Cisco to ditch its councils?

      @rahbm That is so true! Especially with the Chinese involved.