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Even in the high-tech industry, a break from online interaction has its benefits. Says Seif, "Nothing beats a good cigar to get the creative juices flowing."

InformationWeek Staff

September 13, 2001

2 Min Read

InformationWeek 500 - ElectronicsNational Semiconductor Corp. places great emphasis on collaboration. But despite a global E-mail system, a portal to track engineering projects, and various other tools, it's the cigar parties that CIO Ulrich Seif holds in his Santa Clara, Calif., back yard that account for some of the most productive exchange of ideas between employees.

Once a week-usually on a Thursday or Friday afternoon-Seif invites a dozen National Semiconductor employees, partners, and customers to his house for a cigar party. "We hone in on my place and the guys raid my refrigerator and humidor. We talk about business, but in a relaxed atmosphere. That's where you really get the discussions going," Seif says. "At work, you talk about work. You don't talk about weird ideas." But when you bring businesspeople together with the IT folks in a social setting, a lot of interesting opportunities result, Seif says.Some of the "weird ideas" that have occurred in the four years Seif has hosted the gatherings include a portal-code-named Project Cohiba, after one of his favorite cigars-to foster collaboration between internal design teams working on new chipsets, sales teams, distributors, and customers. Other projects include a virtual private network called Project Montecristo #2 and a Web-based meeting management system called Project Partagas. The cigar enthusiasts even created a new job called the infrastructure enabler-someone who works for the company's IT infrastructure department but resides in the general user community, such as in sales or marketing. That effort was called Project Romeo Y Julieta.Even in the high-tech industry, a break from online interaction has its benefits. Says Seif, "Nothing beats a good cigar to get the creative juices flowing."close this window

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