Cisco's Crazy Management Structure Wasn't Working, So Chambers Is Changing It

Cisco CEO John Chambers

Photo: AP Images

Cisco is paring back the complicated management structure that was one of the company’s hallmarks.For the last few years, Cisco has relied heavily on “councils” and “boards,” groups of executives that came from many different product areas. They were meant to focus on big cross company goals, or to pull product teams together quickly to target a new market segment, like health care.

(We blasted the absurdity of this structure two years ago, asking whether Cisco CEO John Chambers had lost his mind.)

As Fast Company explained in a 2008 profile, the council and board structure let Cisco push down decision making from the top few C-level execs to more than 500 executives in all areas of the company.

That profile likened it to socialism. An insider calls it a “federal” system.

Those descriptions should have given Cisco a clue that it might not be the most efficient way to make decisions.

Today, as part of Cisco’s recent promise to refocus its business, the company announced a major reorganization. As part of that reorg, the number of councils has dropped from nine to three, which are focused on enterprises, service providers, and emerging countries.

An insider also says that Cisco is taking a page from Steve Jobs and thinking more in terms of products rather than broad-reaching strategies. It hopes that the new organisation will let individual product groups have more impact within the company.

The new organisation is being driven in large part by Chief Operating Officer Gary Moore.

The press release has more details on exactly who’s doing what now.

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