• Sustaining and Disruptive Innovation
• Existing and New Business Models
• Optimization and Reinvention
• Satisfied Customers and Gratified Partners
• Established and Emerging Countries
• Doing Things Right and Doing What Matters
• Superstar Performers and Winning Teams
• Authoritative Leadership and Democratic Decision Making
These kind of choices are highly relevant in fast-changing industries like High Tech where Cisco operates. Arguably, some may say that with globalization comes heightened competition and, therefore, the pace of change has substantially increased for every large industry in the world. Doing Both brings out how in Cisco’s DNA the philosophy of exerting both choices is built inside and how in its various point in history, Cisco was guided by this approach leading to spectacular business success. The book also highlights the various business models that Cisco planned to pursue and had executed around Consumer, Video, Services & Collaboration space. As Sidhu shows how Cisco sort of walked the talk and shares details, the reading of the book becomes more interesting and as we reflect on these, realization dawns about the significance of how tough those decisions must have been to even conceive and still more difficult to execute!
The eight principal dilemmas that Doing Both showcases from the prism of Cisco’s decision making and execution of those make a fantastic reading. Among those covered are classic dilemmas like investing in incremental innovation vs breakthrough innovation simultaneously. Some might think that larger organizations are bestowed with the ability to take right decisions and make those decisions work out successfully. In reality, such a proposition is far from being true — swift decision making and flawless execution are not easily achievable inside large enterprises. Just imagine how may stakeholders need to align to create something new or modify something that exists – enormous pressures from different directions would make such shared objectives and well aligned execution to happen.
The strategic insights that Doing Both provides are quite interesting — such as how Cisco manages the partner channel, how they changed the channel strategy, the globalization initiative of Cisco, deputing talents to potential spin-in’s, and the fabled Cisco operational committee’s. Discussions centered around these areas provide a very powerful insight into the decision making rhythms of ever successful industry leaders.
If we sort of step back from a very absorbing reading pleasure the book extends (I finished reading the book in less than 24 hours after I got the book – this while attending to other things), we see the classical innovator’s dilemma paradigm of Clayton Christensen — he has written extensively on what characterizes a sound management framework. In a nutshell he outlines the framework in terms of ability to have a good mechanism of state mechanisms that executives would go through on varying circumstances and then by extension the mechanisms to make right decisions towards an efficient and successful navigation. Seasoned executives are sort of trained to parse through this framework many times to know what could be the most appropriate path to take in a given context. The grind of analysis of known contexts and the audacity to traverse new paths when faced with a new type of context makes radical winners (like Cisco) more special and those are the type of insights that this book brings out.