Well, in addition to big layoffs, it looks like John Chambers is finally getting rid off Linksys and WebEx, in addition to his recent shuttering of Flip. While I disagreed with the closing of Flip – it should have been sold or spun off – I agree with the mindset: Cisco is an enterprise communications products company. For years, Cisco did almost no consulting, allowing it to focus on the best products, and building up a solid partnership network which engendered fierce loyalty from the same consultants. It knew what its core business was and did not get distracted.
Some time in the last decade, Chambers got the “Megalo-CEO” illness, where he decided he had to expand into other areas that may be (at least somewhat) related. So he bought companies that did not fit with the core: WebEx, Linksys (consumer/SOHO products), Flip (pure consumer). Unlike most such CEOs, who feel a desperate urge to expand their empires by big acquisitions (how’s that Compaq deal working out for ya, Carly?), Chambers actually appears to be mature enough to recognize his mistakes and turn them around.
Being CEO is hard; fighting the disease when Wall Street is clamouring for big growth numbers is harder; but being big enough to turn around your own mistakes, that takes real maturity.