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John Chambers and the Cisco Way: Navigating Through Volatility Hardcover – March 5, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Chambers is a West Virginia choirboy, soft-spoken, articulate, but inside he'll eat you up." --Peter Swartz, Analyst, Salomon Smith Barney

Cisco Systems's CEO John Chambers is one of this country's most dynamic and innovative chief executives. His team-oriented management style, technological agnosticism, and near-fanatical focus on customers fueled his company's unprecedented rise in the ultra competitive and volatile technology sector. His personal charisma, innate optimism, and natural competitiveness advanced not only his own remarkable career, but also the interests of his company and his industry. Under his leadership, Cisco dominated computer networking, expanded into critical new markets, and emerged as one of the world's most powerful and important businesses.

In his book, John Chambers and the Cisco Way: Navigating through Volatility, business and technology journalist John Waters investigates the Chambers/Cisco phenomenon. Through extensive interviews with industry analysts, venture capitalists, and Cisco executives, employees, customers, and competitors, Waters examines one of the most successful management approaches in recent memory, and chronicles the career and vision of the chief executive responsible for it.

Tracing Chambers's personal journey from computer salesman to Fortune 500 CEO, Waters considers the man and the manager in the context of today's volatile economy. Weaving the vision, philosophy, and career of Chambers with the emergence, management, and growth of Cisco Systems, he delivers an honest portrait of one of our most compelling business leaders, an executive who may well be the quintessential Information Age CEO.

The story of Chambers's rise to prominence and the evolution of Cisco Systems at the end of the twentieth century holds valuable lessons for seasoned executives, budding entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in business today.

From the Back Cover

JOHN CHAMBERS AND THECISCO WAY: Navigating through Volatility
Under the leadership of CEO John Chambers, Cisco Systems has become one of the world's leading technology companies. Chambers's management philosophy and business strategies have allowed Cisco to dominate the computer networking industry and to move into cutting-edge telecommunications markets. In the few short years since Chambers took over as chief executive, the once-invisible "Internet plumbing" supplier has become a household name, and its CEO has emerged as a leading light in high tech.

John Chambers and the Cisco Way: Navigating through Volatility offers an up-close look at the career, philosophy, and vision of one of America's top CEOs. Through expert insights and extensive interviews of industry analysts, venture capitalists, and Cisco executives, employees, customers, and competitors, this engaging book skillfully explores Chambers's rise to prominence and the evolution of Cisco Systems.

High-tech reporter and author John Waters traces Chambers's career from salesman to chief executive, explores his management style, and details his victories and defeats as Chambers steers Cisco through the unpredictable and volatile technology sector.

You'll see how past business experiences-both good and bad-have shaped the way Chambers manages today, and learn how he keeps Cisco on top by:
* Utilizing networking technology to speed processes and slash expenses
* Listening to customers to remain competitive in rapidly changing markets
* Empowering employees for light-speed decision making
* Organizing the company around networks instead of rigid hierarchies
* Implementing a proven growth-by-acquisition strategy
* Efficiently integrating acquired companies
* Aggressively moving into new and broader business segments
More than just a study of key business strategies and best practices, John Chambers and the Cisco Way is the compelling story of a businessman's personal journey. It is a portrait of a hard-working and innovative executive, perhaps not as well known to the public as his peers, but as influential as anyone in business today.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471008338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471008330
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Journalist and author John K. Waters has been covering the information technology beat from Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area for a range of print and online media for more than 20 years. As Editor-at-Large for Application Development Trends he writes the WatersWorks blog and contributes news and feature stories about enterprise software development, management, and security. He also writes software reviews for Law Technology News and contributes regularly to Campus Technology and T.H.E. Journal. His work has appeared in Redmond, Virtualization Review, Microsoft Certified Professional, The UK Register, CIO, Tech Target, and many others.

John has also written more than a dozen books, including a new entry in the Adams Media "Everything" series: The Everything Guide to Social Media, which was published in November 2010. Early in his career, he wrote numerous computer game guides, including the original strategy guide for the blockbuster "Diablo." And he co-scripted the documentary film, Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Reader on June 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book covers some of Cisco's corporate and Chambers' personal history. However the book does not present any detailed analysis of either. Instead it relies on press-release and newspaper excerpts to document parts of the Cisco and Chambers story. It does not appear that the author had much direct access to John Chambers.

In places, the book presents analysis which is either naive or false. For example, the book claims that Cisco viewed Sycamore as a "big-eight" competitor at one point. I am sure Cisco viewed Sycamore as a competitor, but it could not have viewed it as an imminent threat - Sycamore was a tiny startup born in the late 90s around the same time as Juniper. Sycamore was always a much smaller threat than Juniper was and both companies were (probably) 1/100th the size of Cisco (or smaller) in terms of revenue.

All in all, this book is suitable for somebody who wants to get a broad view of cisco's evolution. It is not suitable for somebody looking for precise facts or for deep business analysis.
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By Jay on May 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I was given this book as a present. I warmly thanked the giver for her thoughtfullness, but secretly, I dreaded reading the book. These unauthorized bios are generally either full of senseless/salacious details, or they're dry as an annual report. Most of them are suitable as torture devices. Why do I bother you ask? Knowledge is power, and I invest in stocks.

Well, big surprise.
This book reads with an almost perfect balance of translated tech talk and personal detail about Chambers. This is no simple feat for the author, as Cisco's core business is anything but easy to explain, but you will be amazed at how much you painlessly learn about the innards of the net and how / where Cisco fits.
I could go on, but your time is better spent buying and reading this book.
I hope Waters has another of these in the hopper.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Chambers is no doubt a superb leader, excellent speaker, widely respected business man and a hero for all of Cisco. The acquisition strategy is indeed very true, and this book explains how Cisco has managed to grow to its current size by the multitudes of acquisitions and the unique blending of the incoming cultures into its own. It has built a mosaic well worth being proud of and continues to grow in this manner. I think it's a good book if Cisco and acquisition strategy is of interest to you.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Brigid McGrath Massie, M.B.A. on April 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is interesting, packed with facinating facts and I love the way it explains in "real people" language just how the whole computer industry got started. It also offers insight into the character and effective management practices of John Chambers, without being a flattery piece. The book communicates the fast-paced life in Silicon Valley and extends beyond the Cisco experience to in-depth explanations of how the computer industry giants grow, compete and sometimes die. A wealth of knowledge with an insightful look at a manager who has worthwhile practices to share with any of today's managers.
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