Partnership for Lebanon and Cisco Systems
The “Partnership for Lebanon and Cisco Systems” case study discusses a project developed after the war in Lebanon in July of 2006. After the war, President George W. Bush urged 5 U. S. based companies to partner together to help with the reconstruction efforts in Lebanon, including Cisco systems (led by John Chambers), Intel corp. (led by Craig Barrett), Ghafari Inc. (led by Yousif Ghafari), Occidental Petroleum (led by Dr. Ray Irani), and Microsoft (led by Steve Balmer).
The partnership of these 5 successful U. S. companies formed the Partnership for Lebanon, or the PFL, for which a woman named Salam Yamout was appointed as project manager (Jimali, 2011). Upon the formation of the PFL in 2006, the leaders met at the Paris III donor conference with Fuad Seniora, the Lebanese prime Minister, to discuss and develop the key goals that would need to be achieved in the Lebanese reconstruction efforts, and to map out the main initiatives of the PFL (Jimali, 2011).
Partnership for Lebanon and Cisco Systems Essay Example
With a primary focus on efficient and productive communities and advancement opportunities for the Lebanese people, they developed the following 5 key objectives for which they made significant progress over the next three years: 1. Emergency Relief and Response: The first of the 5 key objectives, emergency relief and response, was essential to establishing a sense of security among the Lebanese people following the war. From 2006 through 2009, the PFL helped more than 1000 families to rebuild their homes, and helped many communities to resettle.
This was a first step toward rebuilding the infrastructure and public society needed for economic and workforce growth (Jimali, 2011). The PFL also rebuilt 10 youth and IT centers, complete with computer labs and Internet technology, providing a training center for over 1400 young people in Lebanon and rehabilitated the schools that stood in the areas most affected by the war, focusing on school safety, quality of student life, and Information Communication Technology (ICT) training (Jimali, 2011).
Finally, in order to reduce continued casualties, the PFL trained and certified two dogs to detect landmines, a $65,000 effort that likely saved lives and increased the mobility of the Lebanese people. 2. Job Creation/Private Sector renewal: The next key objective of the PFL was to increase the number of available jobs in Lebanon, particularly in the private sector.
Much of the focus on this initiative was suggested by Cisco leader John Chambers, who, in a visit to the American University of Beirut, was affected by the number of highly educated, multi-lingual Lebanese young people who would look for employment opportunities outside of Lebanon immediately following graduation. Noting the emigration of the most capable young workers as a significant obstacle to the future prosperity of the Lebanese people, Chambers suggested the job creation be made a top priority.
As a top global leader in the Information Communication Technology industry, Cisco took the lead by developing a $1 million grant program called the “CREDIT” program, which they used to deliver 133 loans to businesses specializing in ICT (Jimali, 2011). Furthermore, in order to provide learning opportunities for Lebanese businesses, the PFL developed the Executive Mentorship Program, which matched successful U. S. businesses with leaders of Lebanese businesses. 3. Developing ICT infrastructure: As part of the PFL’s job creation efforts, Cisco also took the lead in developing a sustainable Information Communication Technology infrastructure.
The first step toward this was to expand broadband service to all rural and urban areas. By partnering with the Lebanese Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (TRA), the PFL developed a long-term strategy for expanding broadband service, which began with the development of several new Internet exchange points and an International Internet gateway. 4. Workforce Training & ICT education: Finally in workforce development, the PFL set out to create private sector job opportunities for the uneducated Lebanese population.
By creating professional training programs and ICT education, a basic infrastructure targeted at building a middle-class could be developed. The PFL made several achievements in this area, including using high-speed broadband connections to connect 50 public schools to the Ministry of Education, providing online learning materials, sponsoring and ICT/life skills youth summer camp program, placing interns in Lebanese businesses, and helping to integrate ICT programs in Lebanese schools (Jimali, 2011).
5. Developing connected communities and connected governments: The final PFL objective sought to develop connected communities throughout Lebanon. A major stride in this objective involved developing ICT centers where people without broadband capabilities could go to stay connected through variety of Medias. In addition to developing 10 of these ICT centers, the PFL also enabled 5 full-service community access points that were affected by the war (Jimali, 2011). CSR Lessons
There are several key strategic lessons that the PFL learned throughout their efforts in Lebanon concerning the creation and implementation of development programs, particularly those that would be able to be adopted by any senior manager. Perhaps the most important strategic lesson was that a targeted, overall objective must be developed in order to maintain the highest likelihood of success. Instead of developing a wide spectrum of initiatives to help rebuild Lebanon, Cisco and the other PFL partners focused on ICT as a means for rebuilding infrastructure and developing economic and educational opportunities for the Lebanese people.
By developing this focused mission, Cisco avoided wasting time and resources or putting a great deal of input into unrelated initiatives that may or may not have had beneficial results. Furthermore, by developing a single mission that was within their expertise, Cisco was able to make valuable contributions in a vital area and thus maximize their impact. The PFL recognized that it could not solve all of Lebanon’s problems, but by developing a set of initiatives that Cisco and partnering companies felt well equipped to address, they were able to develop a plan within the ICT industry where it could make a measurable impact (Jimali, 2011).
Another key strategic lesson learned by the PFL was that a thorough situational analysis is essential to developing an effective restructuring campaign. This is a lesson that is relevant to any rebuilding efforts, whether it is for a nation, a corporation, or a nonprofit organization. By conducting a detailed situational analysis, Cisco as able to analyze which objectives would create opportunities in Lebanon and how Lebanese government organizations, businesses, and communities would utilize various initiatives.
Cisco’s thorough analysis allowed them to develop an effective methodology for implementing various programs, as well as to gain government cooperation and support throughout the process. This analysis also provided Cisco with insight regarding which support and resources they would need to ensure success and therefore allowed them to gather the support they needed before beginning the process in order to produce the fastest and more effective results.
John Chambers, Cisco CEO, said, “In September, we visited Lebanon and we saw a country that can achieve many of the goals itself, but with the proper assistance can achieve them at a much faster pace and rebuild the country for the future, not just rebuild back to where they were before. ” (Cisco CSR Report, 2009). Lastly, an essential strategic lesson learned by the PFL concerning the implementation and running of development programs was that a change process must be developed in carefully planned incremental steps, beginning with the development of the infrastructure needed to prepare for the next step.
This is especially important for ensuring that the strategy can be adopted by any senior manager, because it allows for a step-by-step map of development that allows managers to build upon previous initiatives. Cisco, Corporate Sponsors, and PFL Because of its expertise in this area and its long-time commitment to investing in community sustainability, Cisco was an effective leader in the PFL’s objectives, providing valuable insight on how to encourage job creation that would continue to evolve over time.
Cisco is a leading organization in global networking and communications technology, and was the creator of the multi-protocol router, which revolutionized Internet communications. A company worth $550 billion in 2000, Cisco’s success has been attributed to a focus on customer need that was so targeted that they did not commit to any specific technology and were willing to change in whatever way they needed in order to meet their customers need.
It was this willingness to adapt as well as Cisco’s commitment to community and economic investments that made Cisco the right leader for the PFL’s goals. Cisco’s CSR initiatives had always been designed in a way that sought to add value to the organization through strategically planned initiatives and to leverage the company’s core competence and sustainability levels in a way that provided clear and measurable outputs. Cisco also took a lead in the PFL’s educational and professional training programs, which provided crucial career opportunities for the Lebanese people.
The Challenge of Sustainability Despite the successful implementation of the PFL initiatives from 2006 through 2009, in September of 2009, PLF project manager Salam Yamout expressed concern to her manager, George Akiki regarding the long-term sustainability of the PLF initiatives. She said, “The PFL has undoubtedly been successful across the 5 work streams, and has infused much needed resources, support and hope in a context of post-war devastation, but the key question haunting me now is how to sustain this impact into the future.
” (Jimali, 2011). Akiki agreed, and thus the question of how Lebanon could sustain the development initiated by the PLF without the generous management and resource contributions of Cisco and PLF partners. While the sustainability challenges faced by the PLF may seem daunting, the educational and job training programs developed by the program can be designed to be self-supporting, these programs, if continued and managed by competent leaders, can allow Lebanon’s ICT related programs to continue to prepare Lebanese people for good jobs.
The first step to maintaining these programs is to gather investors from both within Lebanon and from the International community, particularly those who benefit from the increased educational and professional opportunities in the Middle East. Moreover, if the Lebanese government is able to recognize the benefit hat a more vibrant ICT community can offer to the economy, a system of public funding can be developed.
Furthermore, if individuals who are trained through these programs can be offered incentives to remain within the program as educators, the programs can become self-sustaining through generations. Conclusion Cisco and the partners that formed the PLF provide an example of an efficient program for utilizing the specific expertise and resources of one industry to enact positive change on a community in desperate need of rebuilding.
Their thorough analysis, clear-cut mission, and careful planning in an area that they were well resources in, allowed for an extremely effective rebuilding process. Moreover, Cisco provided a valuable framework for how with productive partnerships and effective leadership, successful organizations can help to address societal problems in a way that adds value to both the community involved and the partnering organizations. Too often,
today’s conversation regarding CSR presents in if/or debate, as if companies must choose between economic value and ethical value. The economic argument suggests that corporations are obligated only to shareholders, and that investments made in activities that do not directly maximize profits are irresponsible, while the ethical argument suggests that because corporations benefit from the people and infrastructure of communities, they are obligated to make investments in those communities (Bansal, 2005).
However, a modern view of CSR suggests that there is a middle ground where economics and ethics can converge to create longer term sustainable value. Cisco’s participation in the PLF program is an example of this middle ground. In its participation in the PLF program, Cisco expanded its influence in a part of the world where they previously had little reach, thus creating added value to their organization while addressing significant societal problems.