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Pioneering Video Conferencing: Polycom CEO Bob Hagerty (Part 12)

Posted on Sunday, Dec 2nd 2007

SM: In terms of where you are today, and from a business / financial point of view, what is your strategy?

BH: For us, the near term is focused on scaling. The opportunity is big. Every time I say that, I end up doing an acquisition. We clearly do them and we have them in our minds. Primarily for us right now is scaling our workforce globally. We our doubling our efforts internally to serve our external customers; if you look at our strategic plan, it is about territories.

SM: Channels, sales, and that type of growth. You have the products, you need more coverage.

BH: We have a lot of products, and more are coming. We have a great internal engine that is spewing products faster than our market coverage can handle.

SM: Do you see anybody trying to acquire you?

BH: Never say never, but I don’t know if that is top of mind for anyone. We have a lot of relationships, and there is enough work for everyone right now. Obviously, as a public company, if it happens it happens. Obviously we want to unlock value if it is there for shareholders. However, we believe that growing the company is the better value for now.

SM: In building the company from 1997 to 2007, what are your personal “big lessons” that you can share?

BH: I have been with companies who blew through the billion dollar mark fairly fast. I will say that you cannot underestimate those barriers – 500 Million, 1 Billion – because they are real and difficult.

SM: They are different inflection points.

BH: As the organization scales, your systems are not as clean as you would want them to be. Getting the organizations to understand their missions in that silo, and operate with the agility that you did before is hard. You move from a hub and spoke organization, where the information is spewing in and answers go back out, and try to go to a distributed model – everyone is still stuck on being in the hub. In order for the organization to work well, you have to build those mini hubs, and they have to be in line with each other without the hub telling them what to do. That is one of the scaling issues which makes life difficult.

SM: How do you deal with that?

BH: We bring in mentors and trainers. We try to match folks together. One thing we have done that is awesome is we have a beautiful video conferencing system deployed throughout the company. Anybody can talk to anyone without scheduling a room.

SM: So, Communication is smooth?

BH: No, but it has the potential to be. As soon as we can get people to figure out that they need to talk to people, it will be. Now we are building the workflows that help people know when they need help. If you build a product, you need to align with the marketing team. You do it at ease when you are smaller. We are trying to make sure that these practices become institutional.

As our growth rate goes up, this becomes more challenging. What we used to say at other companies, and I am starting to believe it here, is that you have to run to be at the same place next year where you are today. If you are not running really fast, tomorrow, to do the same job you did today, you would be in trouble. You have to really expand your knowledge really fast. If you want to go up and grow faster, you have to be really exceptional. Leadership is key and scaling our leadership is something we are focused on.

This segment is part 12 in the series : Pioneering Video Conferencing: Polycom CEO Bob Hagerty
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