Posts Tagged Innovation

Cisco Systems Update: Uranus in Aries

Hello everyone.

Some time ago I wrote an article in this blog about Cisco Systems.  I thought Cisco had a really interesting business model and also was an excellent example of a management structure that reflected Uranus in Pisces.  Here’s the link in case you want to revisit the article: Uranus in Pisces – Cisco Systems.  I also wrote that we would watch Cisco Systems as Uranus headed into Aries and see how they would weather that transition.

Today I read on Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s excellent Harvard Business Review blog that Cisco has restructured its operations due in part to two consecutive quarters of disappointing results.  The bureaucracy inherent in their former management structure had rendered them unable to take advantage of some opportunities, causing them to lose ground to competitors.

During the last decade, Cisco Systems instituted an operating structure truly in line with Uranus in Pisces. In order to stimulate innovation they developed an intricate system of councils and boards, some of which functioned without a formal leader.  As I mentioned in my former piece, while this strategy actually rescued their business by capturing cross-functional ideas and insights, there have also been drawbacks.  Fully a fifth of Cisco’s senior executives have left the company, unable to thrive in this kind of flat and complex management structure.

Uranus in Aries is a very different energy than Uranus in Pisces.  The committee/matrix structure that was effective with Uranus in Pisces will no longer work with Uranus in Aries.  Under this transit, business innovation will come through the efforts of the lone-wolf, the entrepreneurial-minded contributor, rather than the holistic, cross-functional team.

Trajan's Column (Roman Soldiers Building a Fortress) (Source:Wikipedia)

One of the commenters on Moss Kantor’s blog perceptively states that maybe we shouldn’t see Cisco’s reorganization in terms of failure, but rather simply change and evolution.  He lauds Cisco for recognizing the need to change and evolve and I agree.  Whenever there is such a massive planetary movement as Uranus passing from the very last sign of the zodiac, the sign of complete immersion in complexity, to the very first sign in the zodiac, the sign of simplicity and individual action, there is going to have to be a reworking of structures throughout society.  As Cisco’s chief executive, John Chambers, said, “It’s time to simplify the way we execute our strategy.”   It has nothing to do with failure; it has to do with natural processes –as natural as the earth transitioning from winter to spring.

This is simply where we are now.  As leaders and managers we should take advantage of this new energy and reform our operations.  We should give more credibility to individual contributors, agitators, spirited, independent-minded employees, people whose self-sufficiency sometimes makes it look like they’re not team players.  These are the people that ingenuity will flow through with Uranus in Aries.

No matter how collaboratively we’re inclined to run our business operations, we have to allow room for individual contributors at this time.  Some people thrive in environments of intense cooperation; others thrive in competition.  Some love to be immersed in a borderless environment while others do their best work when they’re left alone to pursue their own creative ideas.  Watch for this now.  It’s much more likely now that the rebel is the one who is truly inventive, channeling defiant Uranus in Aries and bringing real progress to our businesses.

To read more about Uranus in Aries, see

Uranus Flashes through 2011

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Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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Uranus and the Cycle of Innovation

Hello everyone.

The planet Uranus and its energies are in the forefront these days.  Featured on day three of the International Astrology Blog Carnival, Uranus is the talk of the town because of its imminent ingress into the fire sign of Aries where it will approach the already stress-filled Saturn/Pluto square.

Floor mosaic, ca. 200–250 CE. (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

Floor mosaic, ca. 200–250 CE. (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

Uranus is on my mind, too, because I love its energies and it’s particularly impacting my own natal chart these days.  But today I’m thinking about Uranus’ retrograde cycle because it is passing a critical point in the cycle.  Currently in direct motion, Uranus will continue moving forward until July 6, when it will turn retrograde and come all of the way back to this point in the Zodiac, the point it’s passing now.  This is the Uranus cycle of innovation and it’s beginning now.  We’ll get this round and then another round next December.

Passing Health Care Reform

An example may help you understand the retrograde cycle of Uranus.  Astrologers generally predicted that health care (Pisces) reform (Uranus) in the U.S. would have to be accomplished when Uranus was in Pisces, rather than when it moves into the more self-involved sign of Aries.  The collective idealism of Uranus in Pisces would be necessary to overcome the forces of resistance to change.  The bill passed the House just yesterday, with Uranus at the zodiac point it will return to in retrograde motion next December.

Continuing our example, what does this mean for health care reform?  We’ll have good steady forward motion until the end of May.  Then when Uranus enters Aries, we may see signs of rebellion, perhaps anger that somehow the wool had been pulled over people’s eyes, even those who supported the bill.  In July, when Uranus turns retrograde and begins heading back to Pisces, people will probably simmer down, at least on the health care issue.  And then when Uranus reaches today’s point again next December, expect some kind of final passage or acceptance of the bill, but this is the calm before the storm.  All hell will break loose when Uranus enters Aries again next March.

You’ll pass this way again

What does this mean for us and our businesses?  When Uranus is passing the point it will eventually return to in retrograde motion, it is just beginning its cycle of innovation.  It’s a good time to pause and look around.  What are your issues today related to innovation, discovery, and invention?  It’s time to take the long view and note that the issues you’re grappling with today, whether breakthrough or rebellion, will be around a good long time.  These very same issues will come up again next December to be finally resolved next March.  It may look like you’re making progress, but you’ll need to cover this same ground again from July to next March.

Sometimes our breakthroughs bring instant results and our decisions are permanent, but not now.  Uranus represents the part of us that wants to branch out, experiment, and allow ourselves to be influenced by new technologies and new ideas.  Go ahead.  Don’t stop.  Just note what you’re doing and know that this is not the last time you’ll trek this trail.  This gives us the freedom to experiment, the freedom that Uranus in you loves.

For more information on Uranus, see these posts:
Uranus – an Introduction
Uranus in Pisces – Cisco Systems

Don’t forget. If you have an astrology-related business question (or a business-related astrology question) send it to me at I’ll answer it in these posts, anonymously of course, and we can all learn from each other’s experiences. I look forward to it! Have a question now? Email it and let’s get started!

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Just for Fun Friday – Images of Innovation

Which image resonates with you? The image on the left is from my friend, astrologer Dru Philippe.

A personification of innovation as represented by a statue in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World's Epcot.(Source:Wikipedia)

A personification of innovation as represented by a statue in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World's Epcot.(Source:Wikipedia)


Seven Classic Skills for Innovation

A personification of innovation as represented by a statue in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World's Epcot.(Source:Wikipedia)

A personification of innovation as represented by a statue in The American Adventure in the World Showcase pavilion of Walt Disney World's Epcot.(Source:Wikipedia)

Hi, everyone.

I’ve been doing a lot of research lately on innovation.  I’ve been interested in this because Uranus, the planet that represents innovation, is moving from Pisces into Aries next year.  I’ve often found if I can thoroughly understand the present, I can usually predict the future. So I’m committed to understanding what has unfolded in business innovation in the last seven years so I can advise my clients about what to expect when Uranus moves into Aries.

One of the books I’ve been studying is Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s SuperCorps:  How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good.  Moss Kanter outlines seven classic skills for innovation and I thought I’d restate them in astrological terms.  See if you resonate more with one or another.

1.     Tune into the broader context:  see needs and opportunities through firsthand experience with the wider world

What’s wrong in our world?  What needs fixing?  Some of the best ideas come from firsthand experience, situational awareness, of the world beyond the borders of our businesses.  To increase this awareness, some companies send their employees into actual customer situations.   Proctor and Gamble sent a high-ranking manager to live with a low-income family with two babies for a week to get a feel for the real lives of their Brazilian customers. 

In astrology, a strong Jupiter influence indicates a leader who wants to explore alternate ways of being, thinking, living, and learning – someone who can recognize need and opportunity.

2.     “Kaleidoscope thinking”:  turn conventional wisdom on its head and find creative approaches that let a new pattern form

I love this image, “kaleidoscope thinking”, don’t you?  Where you take all of the factors and everything you think you know about them and then splinter them into new pieces to let a new pattern emerge.  Sounds like taking the wisdom of the known (Saturn) and putting it through the looking glass of innovation (Uranus) and creativity (Neptune).

3.     Articulate a compelling vision:  formulate an idea people can believe in and sell it effectively

Sometimes a compelling vision comes from deep in the leader’s creative heart (Neptune) and sometimes from the ground up, from the people around us (Uranus).  Formulating it into an idea (Mercury) that engages people at their core (Neptune), we then need to communicate well and effectively (Mercury).

4.     Build a coalition of committed backers and supporters:  engage stakeholders whose support is necessary to move forward

This point is about keeping everyone with an interest in the project up to date and informed at every step of the way.  Dropping that email to a colleague, reporting on progress to a potential client, building a relationship with a blogger who can let their contacts know what’s coming.   And often you don’t know which supporter will be important at some step in the future, so the impetus must come from a genuine sense of inclusion.  Stakeholders, backers, supporters, these are all represented by the Moon and all that communication takes a strong and active Mercury.

5.    Develop and support the working team:  motivate people to work hard for a common goal 

Where does the common goal come from?  It may come from the leader (the Sun) but these days it is more and more a product of the working team, through their deep understanding of the needs of the end user, the customer.  And how do you develop and motivate the team?  Development comes from training and exposure (Jupiter) and motivation is a process of understanding and meeting people’s needs (Moon) and aspirations (Mars).    

As Moss Kanter says, “A vanguard company is only as good as its leaders’ ability to attract, motivate, and retain skilled people and enable them to self-organize and collaborate.” 

6.     Persist and persevere through the difficult middle stages when innovation is still fragile

Many innovative ideas are hatched in a piecemeal fashion and it’s not until they are implemented that fundamental challenges are uncovered.  When persistence and perseverance (Saturn and Mars) are working together there is willingness to keep on keeping on until all of the underlying issues are exposed (Pluto) and resolved.

7.     Celebrate success by making everyone a hero

This is where the leader steps aside and celebrates everyone in the organization.  And that means everyone.  Celebration of each milestone is extremely important to everyone in the company and fosters a spirit of ongoing innovation and enterprise.  Celebrating (Jupiter and Venus) all of the workers (Moon) leads to creative innovation.  You never know where the next inspiration will come from! 

Did any of these classic skills resonate more with you than others?  It may be you have more of that planet’s influence in your chart.  Keeping all of them in mind and working on developing one or two will keep innovation fresh in us and in those around us.

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