On Thursday, Cisco Systems turned 30, and the company celebrated in part by trying to fire up its employees.
Among the tactics was a new manifesto — a mission statement of sorts, full of promises to employees.
Cisco calls it “Our People Deal.”
In it, Cisco acknowledged its employees as the engine of its success and talked about its values for the future.
Cisco is a profitable $US47 billion company, but for the past few years growth has stagnated. Revenue for fiscal 2014, which ended in July, was down 3% year-over-year. Revenue grew a mere 1% year-over-year for its last quarter. And gross profit margins are being squeezed, too.
In August, the company announced a big layoff, trimming 8% of the workforce — 6,000 people. It’s the fourth year in a row that Cisco ended its fiscal year with pink slips. In an internal meeting, COO Gary Moore called these annual layoffs, “the wrong way” to manage the changing needs of its workforce.
And those needs are changing. Cisco’s primary market, network hardware, is being unwound because of new technologies that slice the hardware from the software. Some big names, like Facebook, are suddenly fueling new competition. On top of that, corporations want to buy more tech from cloud providers instead of buy and build their own networks.
Cisco has some promising products in these new areas, but it needs to figure out how hire talent in a new software-centric world without throwing its legacy network hardware products (and people) overboard. Earlier this fall, a massive reorganization affected as many as 20,000 people and sent resumes flying out of the company, sources told Business Insider.
Then there’s the new lawsuit with Arista Networks. Arista is an up-and-comer competitor formed by ex-Cisco employees and staffed by a lot of former employees.
Cisco wants to force Arista to re-engineer a lot of its technology, claiming that Arista employees stole and copied critical pieces of Cisco’s tech after they left the company.
Arista has disputed the merits of Cisco’s claims. But even Arista’s CEO Jayshree Ullal (a former Cisco star engineering exec) admitted to CNBC Mad Money’s Jim Cramer on Thursday, “It is true that Cisco rarely sues, and it is also true that Arista is a rare competitor.”
With that as a backdrop, Cisco spent its 30th birthday telling its employees they had a great future with the company. About 17,000 Cisco employees from around the world joined a series of meetings on CiscoTV, the company’s live internal IP television station.
John Chambers rallied the troops with a speech, telling them, “Our destiny is to become the #1 IT company.” Other executives offered their vision for the future, and Walter Isaacson talked to employees about innovation and its history.
And the company rolled out its “Our People Deal manifesto”. Here are a few excerpts:
Our People Deal manifesto shares the story of who we are, what we do and where we’re heading. …
Cisco didn’t just build the internet. We keep building it. First the internet of computers. Then the internet of people. Now the internet of Everything.
Our technology changes the way the world works, lives, plays and learns. But our edge doesn’t come from technology. It comes from our people. …
We think big and make no excuses.
We have the courage to take informed risks, simplify the complex and pursue excellence. …
We work, grow, learn and have fun together. …
We are honest and straightforward. We say what needs to be said and hold ourselves accountable. We earn the trust and confidence of others. Our integrity defines and leads us.
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