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Your country your call- Cisco


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How did a small team motivate tens of thousands of
people around the world to help a nation to transform
its economy? Find out in a case study that highlights
the experiences gained during an innovation initiative
in the Republic of Ireland.

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Your country your call- Cisco

  1. 1. Your Country, Your CallHow did a small team motivate tens of thousands ofpeople around the world to help a nation to transformits economy? Find out in a case study that highlightsthe experiences gained during an innovation initiativein the Republic of Ireland. Case StudyIn February 2010, the Republic of Ireland launched a global providing collaboration technologies for organisers and The winning proposals received a prize of €100,000 each, andcompetition (Your Country, Your Call) to find two ideas that entrants to use and acting in partnership with Austin Hogan there was a development fund of €500,000 for each proposal.would transform the economy by creating jobs and and his colleagues.opportunity. The competition, believed to be the first of its “Cisco is pleased to see the initiative come to fruition andkind, asked for proposals to be submitted online in nine “When I spoke to Damien Dunne, who leads the Innovation looks forward to continuing the partnership,” says Damiendifferent categories. The competition was inspired by Dr. Europe team at Cisco, he said: ‘We’ll tell you everything you Dunne, Marketing Director, European Marketing, Cisco.Martin McAleese and funded by supporting corporations need to know’ From that time on, Cisco people gave us a . huge amount of very practical help and their ‘can do’ attitude After the winners had been announced, the next priority wasfrom Ireland and abroad; its patron is the President of was infectious,” says Austin Hogan. to create an implementation team in order to turn sets ofIreland, Mary McAleese. ideas into practical business plans. It was also necessary to“We wanted to harness people’s thinking, show them that Results and Next Steps bring in different types of specialist expertise: for example,they can contribute, and stimulate people to take personal the global media hub proposal focused on the digital content Between the launch on 17th February and the deadline forresponsibility for the process of revitalising the national industry and therefore required a great deal of legal input. submissions on 30th April, there were nearly 200,000 visitseconomy,” says Austin Hogan, who headed up a large Similarly, technical input was needed to help reduce the to the website from 176 countries and territories. In total, thevirtual team of volunteer professionals as Programme initially broad scope of the data island proposal to a more website received 9,000 proposals which were narrowedDirector for Your Country, Your Call. manageable focus around the two areas of cloud computing down to 20 semi-finalists. Coaches were assigned to all the and data analytics. semi-finalists for a six-week period, to help them refine andThe website ( that was set up develop their ideas before presenting them to a panel ofto manage all the incoming ideas was based on the I-Zone judges who selected five finalists. The two winners,platform that supports Innovation Europe, Cisco’s internalideation programme. From the beginning, Cisco offered announced on 17th September 2010, were: “We wanted to harness people’s thinking, showadvice on the design and implementation of the competition, • An opportunity for Ireland to become a global media hub, them that they can contribute, and stimulateat the request of the organisers. Cisco also became the first proposed by Neil Leyden people to take personal responsibility for thecontributor to offer services and products free of charge, • The data island strategy, proposed by Cianán Clancy and process of revitalising the national economy,” Colm Mac Fhlannachadha Austin Hogan Programme Director, Your Country, Your Call
  2. 2. Your Country, Your CallContinued Case StudyDuring this process of evaluation, it became apparent to the Developing the winning ideasteam that the winning proposals were converging in a manner "Cisco people gave us a huge amount of • Don’t be surprised if you end up somewhere different – thisthat was unplanned and almost organic. “The two proposals very practical help and their ‘can do’ attitude is a sign of success, not failure.began to develop in an integrated way, which is was infectious.” • Make the task manageable. Look at each winning proposalunderstandable because in many ways they need each other in its entirety, then narrow your focus on to smaller elementsto operate,” says Austin Hogan. “We realised that, in building Austin Hogan Programme Director, Your Country, Your Call that can be delivered immediately, as this might also lead toout content, cloud computing and data analytics industries, the bigger picture taking shape.we would in fact be establishing a digital services centre forEurope, in Ireland.” • Consider creating an expert group of independent ‘critics’ Top Tips and Lessons Learned whose role is to assess and comment on the business plansConsequently, the implementation team started taking an you are developing. During the implementation phase of Generating and evaluating ideas Your Country, Your Call, the team brought together a groupintegrated approach to the winning proposals, with a focuson creating the opportunity represented by a digital services • Keep your competition website as simple as possible, and of professionals who acted like a virtual board of directors. plan for higher levels of traffic than you expect. “We presented to the group every 6-8 weeks, as if theycentre. In addition to reflecting the obvious links between were our investors,” says Austin Hogan. “It turned out to bethe two proposals, this approach also enabled the team to • Make sure your evaluation process is robust, so that you an essential part of the process. It helped us to concentratebroaden the scope of the digital services centre to can clearly identify proposals that meet your criteria for the our efforts in between each meeting and provided us withencompass all the technology companies and professional competition. An independent quality assurance is a very high-quality feedback in a non-threatening environment.”services providers that had already set up operations in solid hallmark for a public competition.Ireland. “The concept of a digital services centre enabled us • One of the goals of this type of activity is to motivate and • Stay focused on your objectives. Your Country, Your Call involve people who would not normally think of taking put an umbrella across the whole technology presence in was looking for proposals that would create significant By finding a way of developing some of the best ideas thatIreland and subsume all the existing services into it too,” numbers of jobs (by building an industry, not just a do not meet your criteria, outside the scope of the mainsays Austin Hogan. business) and could be realized in a meaningful way competition, you will help to enrich people’s experience with the available funding. The competition generated as well as create wider benefits. (Your Country, Your CallAt the end of May 2011, the implementation team handed more good ideas than it was resourced to develop, so it did this as part of its evaluation process, by organizing aover to a public-private partnership that will oversee the rest was essential to select the proposals with the greatest workshop where the semi-finalists had the opportunityof the project. During this stage, some of the partner potential for achieving the objectives. to pitch their proposals to professional organizations andcontributors who have been involved with the initiative from development agencies.) • Seek advice when you need it (as early as possible) andthe beginning could take on a more prominent role. Although be prepared to trust your advisors. Business analysts fromfull deployment is expected to take up to two years, it is Accenture, one of this project’s sponsoring companies,hoped that Ireland will start to reap the benefits of the helped review the original 9,000 proposals. The projectwinning proposals much sooner. “We would like to be team also sought additional advice from experts whomarketing Ireland as a digital services centre before the end could offer an informed opinion of the highly technical orof 2011,” says Austin Hogan. specialised subject matter in 180 of those proposals.
  3. 3. Your Country, Your CallContinued Case StudyManaging the people and the process • Don’t be put off by the risks involved. Acknowledge them,• Be disciplined. Even if your initiative is not a typical project reduce or remove them as much as possible, and then with known outcomes, it helps to set deadline dates for carry on. delivery throughout the agreed time line. • Success is mostly about relationships: the power behind• Be resilient. Not everyone will think your initiative is a Your Country, Your Call was people’s ability to get along with good idea or will want to make it work. Expect a degree each other and focus on doing something really well. of cynicism about the project, particularly at the early conceptual stages, and plan in advance how you will manage it.• Be receptive to change. This type of project is not static and new developments will happen on a regular basis that give you a different perspective, so you will have to find a way to deal with this.• An initiative of this kind needs an effective, committed and inspirational sponsor – in the case of Your Country, Your Call this was Martin McAleese.• This type of initiative can release huge reserves of goodwill and commitment as well as creativity. Your Country, Your Call unleashed real passion in many people who got involved, from the organisers and sponsoring partners to the winning proposers, who each gave three months of their own time to work with the implementation team. Non-Irish people also made a significant contribution, driven by their own responses to the project and its momentum.• Diversity sparks energy and ideas – among the organisers as well as the participants. “At the start, we had a virtual team of over 80 professionals, most of whom had never worked together before, and this showed us the power of collaboration – particularly when driven by goodwill,” says Austin Hogan.© 2011 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. Cisco, the Cisco logo, and Cisco Systems are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the United States and certain other countries. All other trademarks mentioned in this documentor website are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company. (1011R) ES/11603/0611