and exposure to various Web 2.0 tools, a win-win situation.
Employees learned about social technologies by using them in
their training, and Cisco experienced significant cost savings
on education deliverya 90 percent reduction in training
costs per attendee. With nearly 2,500 attendees in this one
training session alone, the savings were substantial. Not to
mention, with the reduction in attendee travel expenses,
the learning solution also aligned with Cisco’s corporate
social responsibility goals for reducing carbon emissions.
The collaboration and partnership that resulted through this
experience reinforced a move that Cisco is making away from
hierarchical (command-and-control) management to a more
collaborative leadership philosophy.
Equally important, the training raised the awareness of
social computing technologies as enablers, a conversation
that has been transformational for the organization. As
CDO’s chief technology officer indicated, the engineers now
gained competencies, which were subsequently assessed with
quizzes that showed over a 97 percent training completion
rate. The use of Web 2.0 technologies was supported
and sponsored by the CEO and senior officers of Cisco, and
it fostered stronger partnership and collaboration between
organizations. The resulting trust needed for long-term
ef fectiveness within these organizations was considered one
of the biggest wins of all.
Capitalizing on Organizational Benefits
Cisco is not alone in its leading-edge use of social media. We have
been fortunate to talk to many organizations that are trailblazers
in this exciting era. Intel, British Telecom, Emergent Solutions,
and many others from a variety of industries are exploring the
ways in which they can leverage the new people power that social
media technologies make possible. In our many conversations
with these eager organizations, we’ve seen at least five specific
areas where they are capitalizing on social media to make a real
diff erence:
1. Attracting and retaining the best employees
2. Innovation and knowledge creation
3. Operational efficiency
4. Talent development
5. Employee engagement
When increased communication, stronger connections, and
greater collaboration are added to an organization’s daily oper-
ations, each of these areas becomes a force that can improve
organizational performance and effectiveness. Collectively they
influence many key aspects of an organization, such as strategic
planning, organization design, change management, leadership
development, performance management, and diversity. This is
especially true if we view the organization as a system that exists
within a larger system.
It is evident in today’s volatile economy that companies
cannot survive in the long term without attending to more
than just quotas and quarterly profit. Enron, WorldCom, AIG,
and Lehman Brothers are perfect examples of organizations that,
among other things, disregarded the long-term view, the systemic
nature of their own workforce dynamics, and the environment
beyond their own walls. Obviously, this myopic view can be fatal.
Many would expect greater innovation and knowledge as well
as operational efficiencies to contribute to a company’s short-term
or more immediate success. We agree. However, we also see these
forces interacting with the other three organizational elements
already mentioned. Attracting and retaining the best employees,
talent development, and employee engagement are activities that
create the kind of committed organization that can sustain its
success and meet the challenges of the future. Each of these five

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