What Cisco's boss learned leading teams through change

ONE MINUTE BRIEFING: Cisco's UK & Ireland CEO Scot Gardner says you can't force people to adapt to new things, but you can help them learn.

by Adam Gale
Last Updated: 15 Jan 2020

Change, we are told, is happening ever faster. Brands and business models sprout up and die with alarming speed – alarming, that is, if you’re not a technology company. Yet even in the tech world, change presents problems for employees struggling to keep up.

Cisco stalwart Scot Gardner, who runs the Silicon Valley company’s operations in the UK and Ireland, has learned a great deal about the human side of managing change. Here’s what he had to say.


"As a leader you have to be focused on skills. We’re looking for people who are comfortable with change and who are continuously learning, but learning is a function of support. For example, we needed more depth of programming skills, so the IT team made our entire infrastructure programmable in a couple of our buildings, and opened it up to internal teams.

"Interested groups run their own brown bag sessions at lunchtime, where they go and make little apps or build some kind of driver. We also let our engineering teams get involved in any of our innovation projects they’re interested in, for example delivering superfast wifi onto trains: it’s a fascinating technical challenge and there’s something quite fun about working trackside in hi-vis vests.

"As an organisation we’re very used to reinvention, but it needs to be grass roots led. We don’t force anyone to do it, we just say here’s an opportunity to learn and people grasp it with both hands."

For more information

This briefing reveals lessons learned modernising a company that doesn’t want to change. Or see this exploration of the evolving ‘edtech’ scene, which may underpin the future lifelong learning

Image credit: Pexels/Pixabay

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