Chief Human Resources Officer

Cisco Systems Executive Discusses Disruptive Innovation in Talent Management

Alex Goryachev, Senior Director of Innovation Strategy and Programs, Cisco Systems, discussed some of the latest advances in transforming employees into entrepreneurs during his keynote presentation to Argyle’s CHRO membership at the 2017 Human Capital Forum: Employee Experience in the Digital Era in San Francisco on March 22. In his presentation, “The Experience of Disruptive Innovation to Engage, Empower and Excite Talent,” Goryachev explored how an organization can develop a culture of innovation.

According to Goryachev, innovation can happen within any organization, at any time. Perhaps now more than ever before, innovation is occurring within big and small organizations. Plus, employees at all levels have the ability to drive innovation as well.

“Everything is moving way too fast. The speed of innovation is truly increasing,” Goryachev stated. “Ideas are truly coming from everywhere. … Nobody has monopolies on ideas.”

Although many organizations feel pressure to deliver the next great innovation, it often takes time and patience to innovate.

As a result, there often is a dilemma when it comes to employee experience innovation.

“Transitions appear out of nowhere, and people with ideas can make them happen.”

On the one hand, organizations must allocate substantial time and resources to find unique ways to attract and retain top talent. Conversely, organizations are challenged to deploy innovative employee experience strategies quickly.

“We constantly feel pressure, and I know every single customer I talk with feels pressure as well,” Goryachev noted. “At the end of the day, everyone I talk with is confused.”

There is no right or wrong way to innovate, Goryachev indicated. Instead, an organization should remain open to new ideas and be ready to pounce when new opportunities become available.

Moreover, an organization must stay agile, and doing so could help this organization differentiate itself from the competition.

An agile organization will be willing to listen to employees and encourage them to provide disruptive ideas. That way, this organization can improve its chances of becoming an industry disruptor.

“This is the new normal,” Goryachev said. “When you’re faced with change, you can resist it or you can embrace it. … We have to disrupt ourselves. We have to look beyond our employees and talk to our ecosystem.”

To better understand how innovation can come from out of nowhere, Goryachev offered a few recent examples.

  • Pokémon Go: Many gamers spend hours playing Pokémon Go on their smartphones and tablets. The mobile title has transformed the way mobile gamers view augmented reality and likely will change the mobile gaming landscape for years to come.
  • Netflix: The days of renting a video from Blockbuster or other video stores are over due in large part to Netflix. The streaming movie service has simplified the process of accessing high-quality videos from any device, at any location, at any time.
  • Instagram: The definition of the “Kodak moment” has changed drastically due to the evolution of Instagram. The mobile photo sharing service has made traditional photographs less relevant, despite the fact that Kodak had a stronghold on the photography market for many years.

Clearly, innovation drives transformation and improvement, regardless of industry.

“The Fortune 500 companies are dying very quickly because they are old, not agile and slow.”

And with the right employees, any organization can foster a culture of innovation day after day.

“Transitions appear out of nowhere, and people with ideas can make them happen,” Goryachev indicated.

Goryachev also noted that anyone can become an innovator, particularly in today’s always-on, always-connected global marketplace.

“Now, you can run and operate a business for a few thousand dollars,” Goryachev stated. “If you work for a company that is big or small and don’t like what’s going on, it’s very easy for someone to take a very limited risk and start their own business.”

To embrace innovation, an organization must realize its strengths and weaknesses. This will allow an organization to understand what it takes to maintain the agility to succeed in any industry.

“We are not immortal,” Goryachev said. “The Fortune 500 companies are dying very quickly because they are old, not agile and slow. They are very set in their own unique ways of doing things, which are not necessarily the best.”

Lastly, Goryachev recommended organizations take a startup-like approach to foster ongoing innovation.

Most startups are built on hard work, trust and collaboration. As such, these businesses consist of employees who are willing to think outside the box to improve and innovate – something that may help small ideas drive major transformations across an industry.

“If you have a dream, you can certainly make things happen,” Goryachev noted. “We’re trying to be more like a startup. … In a startup, everyone is engaged. Everyone has a common dream and a common sense of purpose. It’s a team sport.”

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