Innovation Leadership: A Conversation with Mark Chandler, Cisco General Counsel
Innovation Leadership is an occasional series focused on capturing the insights and opinions of thought leaders in business, technology and academia.
April 16 , 2012
Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Cisco, manages a team of 250 professionals. He is known within legal and business circles as a change agent. In this video Chandler talks about the steps he's taken to make legal services more efficient at Cisco...changes that have been recognized as nothing short of innovative by industry peers.
I'm Mark Chandler, I'm Cisco's General Counsel.
To me, innovation is about finding a better way to get a result or to get a result that you couldn't get before by using tools that weren't available.
The legal world is one of the last vestiges of the medieval guild system to survive into the 21st century and that means there's a lot of opportunity for constructive innovation.
Smart Business Practices
We do a couple of principal things in our relationship with our law firm service providers in order to drive greater efficiency and alignment.
First, we try to ensure that everybody's working with the same technology platforms, both for knowledge management and the way we do our patent applications.
Cisco Patents Online has made it much easier for engineers to disclose their inventions and to track the process of review of those.
People's jobs create products and what we want to do is make sure we capture that inventive activity in a way that can be patented.
Focus on Efficiency
Second, we've tried to restructure the way we compensate firms so that the incentive is to get work done as efficiently as possible. In general, I've found that if we structure things on a relationship basis, where firms know they're going to be compensated well for the work, assuming it's done to meet the standards required, they're very happy to work with us on alternative arrangements.
The Change Agent
And third and finally, from a personal standpoint I'll confess that I enjoy being a change agent and this was a great opportunity to make a difference in the way an important industry operates.
The Cisco culture is one that really promotes and rewards innovation.And it's a culture that also will forgive you for missing and reward you for having the courage and the insight to try. And that's a culture that allows even a lawyer to be innovative.