When I first facilitated
a meeting using video conferencing, I thought I was high tech. I thought the
same when I made my first call to Europe using video Skype. When I saw the
movie Avatar, I thought nothing could get more 3-D. until I experienced Cisco
Cisco began and
continues to be one of the most innovative companies in the world, not only for
it’s technology but for it’s workplace culture. I recently got to experience the
miraculous technology of Cisco TelePesence® first-hand, when I met with Marilyn
Nagel, Chief Diversity Officer at Cisco and Ken Lotich from the public relations
team, at Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California. Randall Lane, Senior Manager
of Global Inclusion & Diversity sat at our table, but he was actually over 800
miles away in Seattle, Washington.
This was a true example
of “reach out and touch,” without touch. For those of you who have not seen Cisco
TelePresence®, imagine being one of the flying objects in the movie Avatar. You’re
not exactly in the movie, but you might as well be, and instead of a flying
object and an Avatar, you’re sitting across the table, or next to someone who’s
across the world.
Cisco has developed this
technology that lets you connect with customers, colleagues and suppliers
anywhere in the world. The way that it integrates audio, ultra-high-definition
video, and other advanced technology makes people 6,000 miles away from each
other, feel as if they are in the same room.
To me, as a global
consultant, this elevates global business and relationships to a “whole ‘nother
level.” (As Keenan Michael-Key on Mad TV would say)
I knew I needed to learn
more about the type of Cisco culture that could birth this breakthrough
technology, and at the same time consistently be named one of the best places
to work by Working Mother, Diversity Best Practices, Computerworld, and Fortune
Marilyn Nagel, Chief
Diversity Officer at Cisco, explained that Cisco TelePresence®, was in
alignment with the Cisco culture of high touch, high tech and inclusion.
“We are an international
organization, and believe that we are more creative when we share ideas and
interact, than when we are not working in silos. The use of Telepresence®
allows us to hold “in person meetings,” without travel. Employees build trust
more quickly with visual cues, which reduces cycle time, and prevents
miscommunication. They can spend more time sharing resources and information,
which results in more creativity and innovation.”
When I speak at national
conferences or facilitate workshops with employees who interact with each other
over the phone but never see each other, there is a common theme that they are
always so glad to finally see what the other person looks like. Often, it is
too easy to make assumptions about other people when you don’t see them, which
can impact working relationships.
Based on the hundreds of
organizations, and thousands of people I’ve worked with, I’ve found that most
people want to feel part of a community while they are at work. Employees that
work in organizations that have community cultures tend to be more engaged, feel
less isolated and less stressed which means they can be more successful.
With its organizational
culture and values. and development and use of TelePresence, Cisco exemplifies
the kind of leadership that a dynamic organization needs to keep growing,
learning and transforming.
While TelePresence®, is definitely
breakthrough, I know that at some point, more organizations will develop similar
technologies, and Cisco TelePresence®, will not be the only game in town, but
with it’s breakthrough leadership and talent, I can only wonder what’s next.