The OKR Podcast
The OKR Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

Cisco Security: Results Aligned w/ Anna Birch

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Cisco Security Business Chief of Staff, Anna Birch, and Deidre discuss the importance of alignment to drive growth in large enterprise. An acquired team brought OKRs in and the Security Business embraced them to unlock faster growth. Anna shares their journey, including the initial leadership alignment breakthrough, and how they've operationalized leading for results.

The Cisco Security Business OKR practice helps align teams on common growth objectives in a matrixed org with a deep product portfolio. Since the Security team brought OKRs and WorkBoard into Cisco, it's continued to spread across other business units -- especially those with collaboration and dependencies with Anna's group.

Anna has been Chief of Staff for the Security Business Group GM since it acquired OpenDNS in 2015. At OpenDNS, she was VP of People Operations and Minister of Culture. These roles at the intersection of business outcomes and empowering people and culture to achieve them serve her well as she leads the OKR practice!

You're listening to the OKA OUR PODCAST, a show for leaders who want to unlock their organizations growth potential by leveraging the Oka our technique and other cutting edge strategies. While many recognize the power of objectives and key results, okay ours, to accelery outcomes and foster a growth and outcomes culture, there's a dearth of information on how to do them well and reap their full benefit. That's where this podcast comes in. Will help you learn to align and measure results pervasively, manage fast, to grow fast and, most importantly, achieve the powerful objectives you've identified. Here's your host day, Dread Pack Not Anna. Welcome and thank you for being our guest today. We're excited to have you share your okay our journey and tell us a little bit more about how this is go security business has used the technique and really the platform to drive its growth. Let's start our conversation with how you got started with okay ours.

So I believe that alignment is probably the most important piece to achieve the growth that security business group is going through. I would say that if you don't have an aligns team around those growth goals, how do you get everybody moving in the right direction to support them to okay ours have allowed us to come together as a team, to set up our GM, G writtenhouse, who runs the security business group, as a true GM, and create a shared set of goals, objectives and key results that we can all drive towards. I think even more impactical has been how we've seen that trickle down through the organization. So we have come a long way from being a very siloed group across those functions and just the framework of Ok ours is creating an environment for...

...our teams to have conversations that they wouldn't have been having otherwise. And in the past we use something called strategy on a page. So just a different flavor and look of o Kurs. It was a little homegrown and it was something that we'd actually started at open DNS, and open DNS was one of Cisco's acquisitions and it evolved when it came into Cisco. One of the challenges we saw there was it had sixteen different elements. It was very complicated. It tended to become very functionally focused instead of what do we have to do as a team to achieve greatness, and we saw that instead of bringing people together. It actually supported people kind of going off into their silos and and working on their own. And so two quarters ago we decided that we needed to do something different and I would say just two quarters only doing it at at the LNE and out to level, leadership level, we're already seeing massive...

...shifts and the way we operate as a team. And what's been the reaction from the organization? How do people respond? Incredible excitement around the new process and the platform. So we had recently done in acquisition and that acquisition had actually had the okr process incorporated into their DNA. They've been doing it for over a year and it was something that they pushed all the way down to individual contributors and they were managing their okurs and spreadsheet. And so when they came into spg and I told them that we were going to be using a tool, they were delighted and then once they started using work for they were even triple delighted and it is made everyone's life easier. When I think about scaling this out two thousands of employees, we couldn't do it without a tool and the team is incredibly excited and to talk about the process for okrs after...

...our first offsite. So any offsite with a group of leaders you wonder if it's going to be a success and you hope it's going to be a success and you put so much energy into it, and especially when you're introducing a new framework. So this was a group of leaders that had been familiar with a different process for the last two years and when we walked out of that offsite I had almost every single leader walk up to me and say that was the best off site we've ever had. We had discussions that we have the team have never are brought up. It highlighted the things that we really need to go and do and we've walked out of here with a very clear purpose and the ability to go to our teams and create incredible radical clarity, which was something that hadn't existed before. That was a great two days for sure, and it's been super impressive to watch the leadership team involved its objectives, get smarter about what's it's measuring and, I think, really get better at teaming over the past four quarters through having really good conversations about what the bestt possible results really are. It's what are some of the other changes you've seen...

...over that past year since you ruled out OK ours. Yeah, so I think that that's actually one of the most interesting pieces. I would say up until we'd basically shift our annual planning process about a year ago, where we have been encouraging each product within the security business group to plan as a dynamic team or go through the planning processes of dynamic team. So we had already started that muscle of getting product, sales, engineering, marketing customer success in a room together and talking about what they needed to go do. The Ok ours actually offers this framework. That is happening often and it's very reputable for that team to come together and have a dialog around what they need to be focused on, where they have gas, where they have dependencies. We've even incorporated into everyone's staff meetings, and so in the past there weren't staff meetings around a product necessarily, and now we're seeing those teams come together and,...

...on a weekly basis, talk about what's going on in the business and have this shared set of objectives and key results that they need to go drive. And so now how our teams managing to their key results and how are they using a workboard platform to support that results focus. So we have put a great focus on how we operationalize the krs across the business. So at the highest levels or l ones, we actually incorporated into a weekly ops review where all of the senior leadership team come together and look at what's going on in the business. We pull up the hot box and we look at the items that are most pressing, things that might be going south, and we can have a fruitful dialog around those topics versus it just getting lost in an email somewhere and then also deciding like do these things matter right? It's like it is an iterative process and you learn about how you set krs throughout that rigorous...

...process of meeting on a regular basis. And then the way we've seen it happen lower in the ORG is staff meetings every week are now centralized around the workboard tool and so every single one of our offs manager actually pulls up there around the business review. I've seen OPS leaders do it differently in each group. Some will pull up too hot topics, some will have each leader walk through their entire board. So we're seeing different flavors of it. It's really cool. We have this nice little community of obs leaves that come together now on a monthly basis and they're sharing their best practices, which is creating a great community. Some things are working for some teams, some aren't for others, but it allows us this opportunity to constantly be iterating. Yeah, I think that quarter pace designs in learning. It's how teams just continuously improve every single quarter, which is maybe one of the secret superpowers of doing OK are as well. What should we measure? How can we raise the bar?...

What changed outside the business? What changed inside the business? Just really designing in smarter into every single quarter. And I think it takes leadership discipline to build a results ritual for a team, and I call a discipline, but it's really actually the job of leaders to get everyone aligned on the plan and to drive accountability for achieving the business as results. That's that's just what leaders should be doing in their organization and when they do it well, right, when they have the discipline to do it well, it really shows up and how smoothly and how smartly an organization runs and, I think, and how fast and how smartly it grows. So one thing that we have been challenged with in Spich so across multiple functions and even tying into the larger scope principles, was how are we going to build a recognition program that's supported our big picture objectives? And so we actually just relaunched our recognition program across those functions and they're all aligned to the objectives and we have a whole marketing, internal...

...marketing campaign around it. We're going to try to figure out a way that we can actually show work board on a lot of our digital signage throughout the office to really make it pervasive or employees. I would say that is key, like how do you get employees talking the language of your O K ours and incorporating it into their daily operating model? Right, it becomes something that we're always thinking about. So I love that. That's awesome. So what advice would you give other GM's and CEOS, and they're chiefs of Staff, to get everyone aligned on their own two thousand and twenty growth plans? It's really important for the leadership to understand and believe in the value of alignment and believe in the framework that you're going to roll out. I think that, okay, ours is the first framework that we've used that has actually manifested into...

...something that we think about every day. In the past we would sad and forget those strategies and just getting to that day to day hustle, and I think that at large organizations that contend to happen, and I think that okay are ours give you the ability to create that radical clarity and whatever you want to call it. But this framework does seem to be magic, and when you're trying to move fivezero people into a direction and achieve radical growth, it requires lost step alignment across your leadership team and all the way down the work so I think that finding a framework that works for your team. I would also say having a tool that allows you to scale and operationalize a framework is really important. People want to have an easy way to track their progress.

I think the other beautiful part of okay ours is radical transparency, which is something that we really believe in, and you have to build an organization that hasn't the medus amount of trust to do so, but having a tool that you can easily manage and that gives that transparency is a game changer. We love work for it. We love you too. Anna. Thank you so much for joining the conversation today and for sharing your perspective as chief of staff of the Cisco Security Business. You've been listening to the OKA our podcast. Subscribe in your favorite player so you never miss a moment. Thanks for listening. Until next time,.

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