Pitchforks, torches, and awful quotes – we read what Cisco's CEO said

Must go faster, must go faster!

All right, calm and relaxed, now

Here, I've taken a snippet of quotes, mashed it together with my personal "radical centrist" philosophy, my experience with other individuals and companies and arrived at a dystopian conclusion. Maybe I'm right. But for all I know I'm spectacularly wrong.

The internet as a whole – led by social media but typically augmented by the press – does this regularly. I'm guilty of more than a little of it myself.

It's easy to snark. It's far less so to do research, gather evidence, and then make your decisions. In Robbins' case, the reaction to his disconcerting quotes has been mild. The internet has pilloried greater men for less.

This doesn't, however, mean that all reaction is irrelevant. As with everything in life – and especially IT – "it depends."

The decision to install Robbins as CEO of Cisco will affect the lives of billions. Perhaps profoundly. The emotional reaction for many – including myself – is to fear. Maybe even to panic. This is – in my view – the wrong approach.

The correct approach is to investigate the man, his minions, and his political, economic, and regulatory pressures. To build models based on data and see just how likely negative scenarios are. In the meantime, draft defensive countermeasures against the worst possibilities, but don't pull the trigger until there's a good reason.

In other words: prepare for the worst, but don't charge out fighting battles that might not need fighting. If the evidence supports a need to act, then by all means do so. Not going to war over every little thing might offer the opportunity to avoid the worst through compromise and diplomacy.

Given the impact that technology has on our lives and the multi-national power that executives of the world's technology companies hold over all of us, perhaps this more political – and pragmatic – approach to vendor relations is what is required in the 21st century. ®

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