How We Began: A Team Study and Technology

The first step became clear to me on my third day at Cisco: start with teams. I knew we needed to identify what made our best teams special, and we also needed a technology to serve our teams.

And so, we launched a study called The Best Teams Study that helped us understand what our best teams looked like. We generated a sample of 97 of our best teams by going to leaders across the organization and asking, “Which teams would you replicate if you could?” We compared this to a contrast group, which was randomly chosen across the organization, to give us an average. We asked participants eight questions that allowed us to hone in on the particular day-to-day experience of each team.

Through this, we discovered three things about the best teams at Cisco: teammates use their strengths frequently, have one another’s backs, and possess a shared sense of excellence.

We also brought in a technology to help team leaders help their teams—a technology that allowed team leaders to understand the strengths, the work, and the emotional experiences of the people on their teams. This technology would also embed certain rituals, like the check-in and engagement pulse.

And although this was one beginning—a beginning at Cisco—there was a beginning that happened years before, which set all of this in motion: a white paper called Little Platoons and the start of a unique partnership with Marcus Buckingham. Hear the whole story about how we began in this video and be sure to post any comments or questions you have below.

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Episode Two


Episode Four:


Episode Sixteen

Which Skills Matter Most

Episode Seventeen

Where We're Going Next