May 16th, 2013
By Elizabeth Wayman, research staff, Xerox Research Center Webster
A colleague of mine recently observed if everyone’s goal is to be a leader, there are going to be an awful lot of disappointed people in the world. I think we need to change the idea that being a follower means that we are docile, weak, and ineffective. As Edith Wharton once wrote: “there are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”
Leaders are not the only ones who can use their knowledge, skills, and ability to shape an organization. Followers also can lend valuable perspective. The world is becoming so complex that one person, the leader, cannot begin to comprehend all the perspectives needed to make informed decisions.
As a researcher at Xerox Research Center Webster, I like to explore ideas that could improve how businesses or organizations operate, but I got interested in the idea of followership quite by accident. A friend recommended a book, and just as I had gotten really engrossed in it, I received an email requesting a call for proposals for a conference sponsored by the RIT Institute for Leadership. I thought followership was an interesting juxtaposition to leadership, so I delved into the subject more and submitted a proposal to speak on the topic.
Information about leadership – in the form of conferences, workshops, books, videos, coaches – is plentiful but very little exists on followership. That’s quite ironic as there are so many more followers than leaders on the globe! Material on followership began appearing in the late 1990s. My favorite book, so far, (of the say, five, out there!) is “The Courageous Follower” by Ira Chaleff (the book my friend recommended). It gives some very specific examples of what a follower could say or do to make his or her voice heard in an organization. As I read I thought “hey, I think I can do this.” Maybe I would know what to say or do if a certain situation arose. It made me realize I can have more of an impact than I used to think.
May 3rd, 2013
By Kate Dobbertin Bernola, manager, Global Social Marketing, Xerox
May is here, which means for those of us in the Northern hemisphere, it’s time for spring cleaning! Once you’re through with the mop and bucket, turn your attention to these other areas that may be in need of a little dusting.
- Your social media sites: Have you added your latest job role to LinkedIn? Was your Facebook profile picture taken in the past two years? Does your Twitter bio reflect your current interests? Read through your basic info for your personal sites and also your company’s pages. Chances are, you’ll have a “Wow, bubble tea used to be one of my top five favorite things?” moment.
- Your webpage: You may be surprised at how quickly your webpage has become outdated. It’s a meticulous task, but a necessary one – have someone comb your site, page-by-page, to check for broken links and old references.
- Your devices: Delete old photos, contacts, files, and apps to free up space on your laptop, tablet, and smartphone. (Here’s a quick how-to.) While you’re at it, give the outside a good polish.
- Your routine: Could your workflow be more efficient? Should you add a morning planning period or end a call that no longer adds value? Take a moment to reevaluate your daily schedule at work and at home. You’ll be surprised at what you can cut out – or what is missing.
- Your budget: What’s changed in the past few months? Perhaps you didn’t realize quite how out-of-control that latte habit as become, or you’ve forgotten about those five online magazine subscriptions you never read. On the other end of the scale, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones with excess cash chilling in a bank account that could be moved into a more lucrative investment. A quick audit can help to determine where your hard-earned money is going and how you might be using it better.
These tasks won’t take very long to complete, but they will simplify your business and your life. Like my mother always said after I cleaned my room, “Now, don’t you feel so much better? Go outside and play!” (Side note: my mom is currently laughing at the notion that I ever cleaned my room as a child.)
This post was inspired by Managed Print Services and Spring Cleaning Advice for Governments.
April 25th, 2013
By Ed Gala, vice president, Marketing, U.S. Client Operations, Xerox
Sitting on a flight from LA to Chicago, I have plenty of time to ponder this question: What do airlines and hospitals have in common?
The question is top of mind following a meeting with Ann Rhoades, co-founder of JetBlue airways, and Xerox healthcare clients. Rhoades thinks the parallels between the two seemingly disparate industries are so compelling that she now devotes much of her time to transferring lessons learned from pilots and passengers to physicians and patients.
Fascinating stuff, though as I facilitated the round table discussion between Rhoades and IT leaders from large hospital systems like Molina, HCA and UCLA, I wondered if others would agree about the similarities of managing airplanes and hospital beds.
And just when I feared the conversation would crumble, a spirited discussion broke out!
It seems pilots and doctors both tend to have strong opinions about things — and carry the responsibility of human lives in their hands. They are disciplined and driven by data. And they don’t care much for muckety-mucks from headquarters telling them what to do and how to do it.
When you enter a hospital or an airplane you have to check your attitude at the door. You relinquish control to the experts. You are required to provide personal data. Your clothes are stowed in the baggage compartment or in plastic bags marked “patient belongings.”
Suddenly, I’m very grateful that while I’m a bit sore from sitting in a cramped center seat, at least no one forced me to wear one of those dreaded robes with the open back side.
As we make our descent into O’Hare, I’m reminded that turbulent times in all kinds of industries are forcing companies to share best practices and innovative strategies necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing marketplace. Xerox clients in LA talked about pairing tech-savvy younger docs with more tenured colleagues who might not be as nimble with new tools of the trade. And I don’t mean scopes and scalpels; I’m talking iPads, digital storage, scanning and security software.
Rhoades says they do the same kind of “pairing” in the airline biz where younger pilots bring new tech skills to the cockpit, sharing and learning alongside captains who earned their stripes many years ago.
Strategic partners are also playing a role, bringing cross industry expertise and change management skills to the organizations they serve.
Simulated training, electronic records management, compliance, sustainability, BYOD, mobility, competitive and cost pressures … all common challenges between aviation and healthcare.
Wheels down in Chicago, I’m thankful for a safe, on-time arrival. And I have a doctor’s appointment coming up soon. Who knows, maybe someone from the airline shared a useful insight with someone from my healthcare system. I certainly hope so.
January 23rd, 2013
By Bob Wagner, Corporate Public Relations, Xerox
I served as a host at a student and alumni networking event in Rochester, N.Y., recently for an out-of-town college, and it reminded me how valuable networking remains for people—and companies—in transition. And I saw fresh evidence that networking is most effective as an ongoing activity.
Consider, for example, the prospects of students who performed internships or worked summer jobs in their fields while in college. They already have professional relationships to kick-start their networking—and, perhaps, even a job offer from their former associates.
Likewise, students who’ve established themselves professionally in social media have a head start. One recruiter I spoke to shook her head at several students who hadn’t yet established LinkedIn profiles, her company’s first step in screening prospective employees. Compare that to RIT senior Nick Gawreluk, who already has a sufficient industry profile from blogging for Printing Impressions to warrant a video interview on the future of graphic communications for WhatTheyThink.com.
As Nick points out, the graphic communications industry is going through its own transition these days. Increasingly, graphic communications providers work with new contacts—marketers—playing a new role, as consultants on best practices for deploying an array of print and electronic media.
Systematic networking is critical to success in this transition. Like students taking internships, graphic communications professionals can join marketing and advertising industry associations to learn the industry and develop relationships in non-sales situations. Like students taking part-time jobs, graphic communications pros can host seminars and open houses and seek speaking engagements to showcase their capabilities and thought leadership in ways their new targets may find valuable.
And, of course, graphic communications providers can further establish their industry expertise by engaging in blogs, videos, LinkedIn discussion groups and business networking on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels.
Networking isn’t easy. You have to make time for it. You have to plan for it. And you have to recognize that not every effort will lead to something tangible. But, make no mistake, effective networking is a key contributor to students getting fast starts on their careers—and to graphic communications providers leading their industry’s transformation.
Bob leads Global Communications for Xerox’s technology business and is a proud RIT alum. Go Tigers!
December 3rd, 2012
By Robin Wessel, director, New Business Development, Xerox
I recently had the pleasure of hosting the pilot episode of Xerox’s “Ask the Experts” live Google+ hangout. The episode featured small business expert and best-selling author Melinda Emerson, who answered questions – with a flair only she could bring – from live participants as well as questions submitted prior to the airing.
The replay is below in its entirety, but there are a few standout points I wanted to quickly highlight because I’m confident SMBs can really benefit from them:
- Brand yourself - As you’ll hear from Melinda’s story, when she went to sign up for an account on Twitter her actual name was already taken. This is something many people encounter today, but it presents a great opportunity to get creative and develop a brand for yourself. Melinda went with @SmallBizLady, which is pretty fitting.
- Shift your mindset – When you’re an entrepreneur versus an employee, you alone are responsible for your paycheck, so you have to identify opportunities and, most importantly, avoid distractions.
- Don’t forget the nuts and bolts - As important as social media and digital marketing are, they’re just a few pieces of the puzzle. Don’t forget about the enduring power of print and the ways multifunction devices can help simplify your work. By using MFDs, not only can you produce high-impact marketing materials to promote your business, you can also produce, copy or share important documents, quickly and easily and boost your productivity.
For these and many more real business insights, here’s the full video replay:
In his role at Xerox, Robin focuses on helping SMBs work smarter and more efficiently. When he’s not hosting Google+ hangouts, he can be found geeking out over the latest gadget.
August 22nd, 2012
By Sakena Hillman
When I began volunteering for Teen Living Program (TLP) two years ago, I had no idea my passion for helping Chicago’s homeless teens would one day lead to a fully-paid social service leave of absence.
Fast-forward to 2012 and that’s exactly what happened when I was selected, along with 10 other dedicated employees, to participate in Xerox’s Social Services Leave program. This incredible program gives Xerox employees the opportunity to temporarily step away from their full-time responsibilities to make a meaningful, positive impact in the community where they live and work. When given the opportunity to apply for the program, I knew I had to do it.
TLP is an organization that provides stable housing and supportive resources to homeless teens in Chicago. Their mission is particularly sensitive for me. As a teenager, I experienced periods of homelessness and have similar stories to that of the youth I work with at TLP. Through the support of family and close friends , I maintained physical and mental health, and finished college. TLP plays a similar role for their youth by providing a safe home, nurturing environment and sincere accountability. I am honored to work alongside such talented people who share my passion and dedicate themselves to this cause, my cause.
I am halfway through my 12-month leave. During that time, I have beenable to expand my role by working more closely with the youth, designing and facilitating developmental workshops, streamlining TLP’s volunteer programming, and building corporate partnerships to benefit the agency’s programs.
I am so grateful to Xerox and the Xerox Foundation for allowing me this extremely rewarding experience. I am proud to work for a company that invests in our community so generously.
Caption: Xerox’s Sakena Hillman checks in with one of TLP’s teens.
October 19th, 2011
October 20th is Information Overload Awareness Day, a day started by information overload expert Jonathan Spira that calls attention to the problem of information overload and how it impacts both individuals and organizations in the workplace.
Since information overload is a phenomenon that’s not going away anytime soon, perhaps borrowing from another holiday may be in order. So, I’ve made a list of Information Overload Awareness Day resolutions.
Hopefully, unlike their New Year’s counterparts, these will actually be useful and easier to keep.
- No more time in mail jail- According to the Information Awareness Day Study, the average knowledge worker receives 93 email messages per day and many are unnecessary. So in recognition of the day, I pledge to delete and unsubscribe to unnecessary Google alerts and delete and file emails that have been read each day.
- Live…and work in each moment-According to Jonathan Spira, it takes five minutes to get back on track after a mere 30-second interruption. To fix this, I will eliminate distractions. For example in the case of conference calls, there have been instances where a well-timed “I agree with the group” or “could you please repeat that” has covered up ill-timed multitasking. It’s time to focus.
- Pick up the phone- Composing an email is often more time consuming than just picking up the phone. A quick call is also more personal. (For six months now; I have been either Charles or Alex. Occasionally, I get an Eric.) I pledge to stop sending emails when a call with a teammate would suffice. Less email also saves money. According to the Information Overload Awareness Day Study, if every knowledge worker in the United States were to send 10-percent fewer messages, the cost of Information Overload would be reduced by as much as $180 billion per year.
As William Pollard once said information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.
So, Happy Information Overload Awareness Day! This is a chance to stop and think about what steps you can take to make a change – without even breaking a sweat. Feel free to comment.