cisco innovation 1Today I’m sharing a Network World story about how Cisco awakened its inner startup culture through the Cisco Innovate Everywhere Challenge.

The Challenge was the company’s first-ever internal innovation competition, designed to spur corporate entrepreneurs to produce new innovations. Another benefit: awakening a startup culture.

It was a wildly successful endeavor. Nearly half of the company’s employees got involved, Network World reports.

I was proud to be involved as a corporate entrepreneurial coach, but surprised to be pressed into duty as a game show host.

The Network World story begins:

“For a giant 30-plus-year-old company, Cisco has a reputation for keeping things fresh via spin-ins, buyouts and venture investments. But late last year, the vendor launched the Innovate Everywhere Challenge just to make sure it wasn’t overlooking any great new ideas among its 74,000 employees.

“We have phenomenal innovation programs for engineers, IT people, marketing people and sales, but what we’ve never really done is mix them up across functions and geographies,” says Cisco Director of Innovation Strategy & Programs Alex Goryachev, who counts Napster, Liquid Audio, IBM and Pfizer among his previous employers. “If you think about a true startup you have to have a great engineer, a great marketing/PR person, a business person, a finance person and a product person.”

Here’s the whole story from Network World.