Remember: Cisco Always Has a Plan

Cisco Systems Inc. spent most of this week wagging the dog -- feeding the media with leaks about executive departures and transitions. My spin? All the teasing was actually a carefully crafted media plan that wrapped up with today's leadership announcements from new CEO Chuck Robbins.

The week started with three key leaks. Presidents Rob Lloyd and Gary Moore will leave the company once the CEO crown shifts from John Chambers to Robbins in July. CTO Padmasree Warrior also will exit. The Lloyd and Moore departures didn't surprise me. But Warrior's exit caught me a bit off-guard.

Still, I doubt it caught Robbins and Cisco off-guard. Remember, Cisco's CEO succession plan involved a multi-year journey. The company "searched" for internal and external candidates -- even though Robbins and Lloyd were widely considered the front runners by outsiders who kept hearing whispers from insiders...

In recent years, Chambers from time to time commented about the search and his eventual retirement. But the statements were vague -- and they stopped completely a few months ago. Chambers insisted the next time he discussed any transition it would include actual news about his retirement -- and his successor.

Translation: Cisco had nailed down the plan earlier this year, and then spent time internally to determine who would stick around -- and who would exit -- once Robbins was in control. The CEO transition was finally announced in May. Then came some planned leaks about executive departures. 

Why? Cisco wanted to get the "they're leaving" news out of the way. Once that quieted down, Cisco could quickly shift the conversation toward "who's staying." That conversation starts today.

Indeed, Robbins announced his new leadership team in a blog earlier today.  Check the blog, and you'll notice that "comments are closed" for that particular webpage. 

Like I said: Cisco always has a plan. Few companies are better at "reacting" to media leaks -- which weren't leaks at all...