September 16th, 2013
By Jeremy Caplan, freelance writer
How a company announces a new project can mean the difference between big buzz and utter obscurity. Whether your team is launching a new initiative or reinventing an internal process, you’ll want to share information about the project to build support. Beyond using social media or email, it’s important to develop a strong visual Web presence.
Rebelmouse allows you to benefit from the social content you’re already creating. It’s quickly become one of the hippest new ways to show off the content you’re creating on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Rather than creating a static landing page, you can use Rebelmouse to pull together a dynamic scrapbook illustrated by your most recent posts. Dick’s Sporting Goods is one example of how a brand can use Rebelmouse to reach out to fans.
Another quick, easy way to build a slick landing page for a project is to use Flavors.me, which provides a range of clean, professional-looking templates where you can add photos and text. If you want to share social media updates, the service can pull them in automatically, like Rebelmouse, or you can link to relevant updates, images, videos or data on other services ranging from WordPress and Blogger to LinkedIn or Tumblr. These examples give you a sense of the possibilities.
Padlet isn’t recommended for creating traditional sites for small-business initiatives or corporate projects. But it’s useful for building a quick online bulletin board. It can also be used to get feedback on an initiative, or share updates, videos, images and text to keep people in the loop on the progress of a project.
Storyboard.me allows you to put together a professional-looking press kit for a project or product quickly, cheaply and easily. Storyboard enables you to create a digital tile-based design likely to impress outsiders with your project’s polish.
Finally, if you have just a few minutes and need something to convey quick information, try CheckThis. Take a look at this simple page about a Kickstarter project to get a sense of how a plain CheckThis page can explain the premise behind a project. Sometimes a simple, straightforward site can be surprisingly sufficient.
This post originally appeared on Forbes.
September 12th, 2013
By Kevin Warren, president, U.S. Client Operations, Xerox
It’s no secret that we create opportunities when we do things differently. Reinventing yourself, your business, your workout, your outlook, your career, your sales strategy – whatever it is – when you make a change, it’s typically a tightrope walk that balances the energizing with the scary.
Let’s face it, most of us aren’t big fans of change; we’re almost hard-wired to resist it. It’s difficult and threatening, and yet we can’t avoid it. Especially in business today, where transformative change is more than a buzz word, it’s a survival skill.
Our company has undergone some seismic shifts during my tenure. Difficult as these changes may be, I focus on what is possible (and necessary!) by thinking about the opportunities this kind of shift presents – and remain focused on how we stay nimble enough to capture them.
And while each challenge is unique, I submit that there are three key actions in any transformative leadership:
- Determine strategic imperatives and the operational drivers that can get you to your goal.
- Be clear where old mindsets undermine efforts and prevent you from moving in new directions.
- Be certain everyone down through the layers is vigilant about keeping to the strategy and focusing on the operational drivers.
I firmly believe that reframing changes in the form of opportunities creates an energy that helps drive success. Leadership that challenges that “muscle memory”— doing what we’ve always done – is at the heart of it, but you have demonstrate reliability to get people to follow. They need to know that the things they know and trust aren’t about to completely fall apart while you’re focused on metamorphosis.
Knowing that we are all walking that transformative path together gives me the evidence to be optimistic. Here’s what I deem critical checkpoints throughout the course of any dynamic shift:
Focus on the right things. Customers want different things today than they did 75 years ago, and will want different things in the future. Being in tune with the changing needs and expectations of those we serve is vital to corporate success and it requires the discipline to stop and listen, and adapt.
Make the change sustainable. Initiating change is one thing, but sustaining it is another. In fact according to McKinsey, only 30 percent of all change initiatives are successful. So what does one do? Have a vision. Make it relevant. Keep it simple. Execute well.
Communicate early and often. Culture is undoubtedly the biggest make-or-break factor in the mix. You have to be ready for the resistance piece – the people who’d rather have you wake them when it’s over. The challenge is to help them focus on the opportunities the change offers vs. what they think they may lose in the process. It’s not quick and it’s not easy, but it’s possible. Make the case for change with a vision that grabs people.
Remember: People are your driving force.Talent is the critical element to carrying out the strategy and structure you’ve so carefully carved out. Take a hard, honest look at your resources and determine who can make the journey, then get the right people in the right roles. And go back to that focus piece – determine the thinking and skill sets people are going to need, and make plans to coach and teach those skills continuously.
Managing change is difficult, but change isn’t going away. All of us have to keep pace with it. So, wherever you work, whatever your role, accept the challenge to wrestle muscle memory to the ground and become a change master who creates the next great leaps for your organization.
This post originally appeared on Forbes.
August 15th, 2013
By Kate Dobbertin Bernola, manager, Global Social Marketing, Xerox
Last week was Simplify Your Life Week, but I was too busy focusing on more important things to finish other than this blog post (see tip #1!). Though I missed the party, simplifying things at home and in the office never goes out of style. With that in mind, here are five easy ways to simplify your life.
- Prioritize. If your to-do list is 100 items long, chances are you feel more frustrated than empowered when you glance at it. So throw it out and start fresh. Before you even turn on your smartphone each morning, list the top three things you want to do, then get started. At the end of the day, you can breathe easy knowing you’ve tackled the most important tasks.
- Expedite. Choose a daily routine, then write down every step (wake up, brush teeth, shower …). Tomorrow, use a stopwatch to time each step. With data in hand, challenge yourself to take five minutes out of your ritual by eliminating time-wasting steps. (“I spent three minutes searching for socks? Maybe I should buy a few more pairs and throw out the mismatches.”)
- Purge. Empty your desk drawers, and put back only the essentials. At home, do the same with closets. Everything goes into one of four bins: keep, donate, recycle, trash. A good rule of thumb is that if you haven’t used it in the past year, it isn’t allowed to stay.
- Outsource. A wise Xerox executive once told me: “It is less expensive for me to send my kids’ baby-sitter to the grocery store than it is to go myself. She sticks to the list; I get distracted and add extra items to the cart.” Lately, many businesses have begun to offer delivery services for groceries and dry cleaning. Examine all your resources, then divide up the tasks.
- Relax. Making yourself a priority will boost your work efficiency in doing everything else. Schedule time with a book, treadmill, or a group of friends, and treat it just like you’d treat any other appointment.
Will you be trying one of these tactics, or something similar? Tell me how you’re simplifying your life in comments section below.
August 14th, 2013
By Britt Gordon, summer intern, Xerox
Internships are an exciting time for any college student. You’ve sat through hours of classes, tons of tests and finally feel ready to get a taste of the real working world. When I joined Xerox as a summer intern two months ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but made it my mission to be a sponge and soak up every bit of the experience. For fellow students seeking to make the most of their internships, I offer these three simple pieces of advice:
- Be like a fly on the wall. Being an intern is as much about doing work as it is observing. And just because you’re out of the classroom, doesn’t mean that learning has stopped. You’ll quickly realize that it’s just beginning. Take every opportunity you can to learn about the company you’re working for. Ask to sit in on meetings, even if you really have no business being there. Just listening in on conversations and being a bit of a fly on the wall during meetings will help you learn more about the company’s culture, how it operates and how you can contribute.
- Be adventurous. Though it may seem difficult to be truly adventurous in an office setting, those of you who are introverted may need to step outside of your comfort zone if you want to get noticed. Here’s an easy tip: When riding up or down the elevator alone, practice your “elevator pitch” – a quick intro that you’ll use to meet folks around the office. When riding with others, simply introduce yourself and use the 20 second opportunity to learn something or meet someone new. Just putting yourself out there and being naturally interested is a great way to become connected with people who (you likely won’t find this out until much later) are very influential. Also, don’t be afraid to schedule informational meetings with people you don’t work directly with, but work in areas that you are interested in. Most people are more than willing to meet with interns, talk about their jobs and offer career advice. Remember, they were interns once too!
- Write it all down. In an environment where everything is new and learning is constant, it helps to organize your thoughts by writing down your most critical ideas. Take a few minutes after important and constructive discussions you have with coworkers, whether it be through meetings or informal conversations, to list the key takeaways or summarize what you learned to help crystallize your thinking. This will serve you well, not only as a reference, but as a way to help make smart decisions about your next steps on the job, and take advantage of future opportunities.
Britt is a senior at Boston College studying marketing and international studies.
July 24th, 2013
By Jeremy Caplan, freelance writer
Your inbox is more important than your office. It’s where work really gets done. The average worker spends 28% of their time on email, according to a July McKinsey Global Institute report. That means more than two hours each workday are eaten up reading and writing messages. The quickest way to boost workday productivity is to sharpen your approach to email. Adopting the six simple techniques below will save time and make your inbox more useful.
Search, Don’t File. When you file a message, you’re not making the best use of your time. That may sound counterintuitive to those trained to neatly file away mail. But research shows that people don’t return to most messages they file. More importantly, when you want to return to a message, it’s generally more efficient to use your email system’s search function than to dig through a folder.
Not convinced? Think about how you use the Web. When you want to pick a restaurant to book an airline flight, chances are you start with a Google search. It’s not necessary to file each site you find or each plane itinerary, because you know you can Google it again. Email searching works the same way. If you’re using Gmail or just about any other contemporary email system, built-in search functions allow for advanced searches (like “has:attachment”) so that you can quickly and easily find anything you need.
Send Email Early. Send messages early in the morning, before the busy workday puts people behind schedule. Just as planes and doctors are more often on time in the morning, email respondents are more likely to reply to – or act on – messages received early. Messages with a link sent at 6 a.m. are three times more likely to see that link clicked on as messages sent at 4 p.m., according to research cited by ReviveYourInbox.com. Keep in mind that 39 of messages are opened within three hours, according to research by GetResponse, an email software provider. If a message sits longer than that, the chances of it getting read drop dramatically.
Be Super Brief. A movement has arisen encouraging people to keep emails to five sentences, much like Twitter has its 140 character limit. Research shows people spend 73 seconds per email reply, on average, so each time you shorten a message you’re likely saving precious minutes for you and your correspondent.
Filter. Create filters that sort your messages into specific folders as they arrive in your inbox. It takes just half an hour and will help keep your inbox in pristine shape. If the task sounds daunting, use a free service like unroll.me to help unsubscribe you from lists. Much as you wouldn’t leave unwanted menus or dirty dishes sitting around your kitchen, why allow unwanted messages to flow freely into your inbox?
Batch. It’s tempting to check email every five minutes. But those who do so risk interrupting their creative flow and damaging their productivity. Instead, try checking and replying to messages at most once on the hour, every hour from 9 to 5, plus once after dinner if necessary. That way you can group message reading and writing into 10 efficient communication bursts followed by focused periods of work.
Use Digital Assistants. Email apps can turbo-charge your inbox. Use Boomerang for scheduling emails for early morning delivery, for example, and Rapportive to get a quick view of an email sender’s social updates right within your inbox. Use WiseStamp to add social media updates into your email signature. And to help ensure that you’re in touch with people in your network, try Contactually, a digital assistant that can remind you of key contacts who are overdue for a message from you.
This post originally appeared on Forbes.
July 17th, 2013
By Christine Hall, freelance writer
Employee training through social media and online programs is transforming workplace development. Not only can companies develop multiple teaching tools inexpensively, but they have more flexibility in how and when to train.
“This is a timely topic and so easy to do now,” said Bill West, senior vice president of learning services for Xerox. “We call it ‘extending the blend,’ meaning blending the initial online and classroom experience with the post-training, just-in-time capabilities of mobile and social learning to provide support to the employees at all times.”
The technology powering these resources has also become inexpensive and versatile enough to create tools and applications that can be used on smartphones and tablets, he said.
To be a leader in the global marketplace, learning on the go is a priority for companies and their employees, said Sandi Edwards, a senior vice president at AMA Enterprise, a division of the American Management Association that builds corporate solutions to transform talent.
Online and mobile training also allows more individualization, helping those who might prefer learning one way more than another, she added. It also offers alternative teaching tools and methods, beneficial since classroom training makes up just 5 percent of what someone needs to know to do their job, West said.
Most people encounter new problems on the job, so companies are creating resources that employees can use when and where they need them, including giving employees mobile devices to learn about a new product or find support right away.
Social learning has provided another component, introducing discussion groups or forums that allow users to search key words and see the most popular solution as well as answers from other users, West added.
This approach fits well with a younger generation of employees who are used to going online – searching on Google or watching video tutorials on YouTube.
One of the biggest gaps for global leaders, Edwards said, is addressing employees’ desire to know more about and gain mastery of technology in training and development. “They want competency with social networking technology and tools that could be helpful to them,” she said.
Online alternatives to classroom learning also allow for more interactivity, such as submitting comments and engaging in dialogue, Edwards said.
Employees crave flexibility in when and how they learn. Companies can now better respond to them by creating tailored online learning materials.
This post originally appeared on Forbes.
June 27th, 2013
By Laurie Riedman, PR Consultant
Throughout the year I work with some of the smartest minds at Xerox – the scientists and researchers hard at work in the labs developing the new services that help simplify the way our customers do business and increasingly how we live – from finding parking on a busy street in L.A. to igniting education by helping teachers transform the way kids learn.
It’s my job to bring those behind the scenes stories to life and reveal the innovation inside our products and services. That isn’t always easy to do, but for the next several days, it’s as easy as a walk down “Jazz Street” in downtown Rochester at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest.
You see, many of the more than 200,000 folks expected to attend the festival could unknowingly be holding state-of- the-art imaging anti-counterfeiting technology developed just a few miles from the festival at the Xerox Research Center Webster.
Several fraud-resistant specialty imaging security technologies – including a new innovation called MicroGloss marks as well as Glossmark and MicroText – are protecting every festival Club and VIP Pass. I think it is so cool that every person that holds a pass will have their own personal sample of these state-of-the-art security features.
To the festival goers, it’s just a great looking ticket, but the technology embedded in the images is the same technology customers from around the world use to secure and authenticate all sorts of documents including coupons, tickets, lottery tickets, certificates and invoices. And because it does not require additional printing steps or incremental costs, the technology can accommodate variable information, like a name, a time-stamp or a code.
The technology doesn’t stop there. JazzFinder is a free smartphone app that allows users to search for show times, artist information, concert directions and even share event photos. Attendees can also try the Be Moved JazzCam — a unique 360-degree photo opportunity that weaves photos taken from a ring of cameras into a single image. The image can be shared via social media or, for a small donation to the Eastman School of Music – Rochester International Jazz Festival Jazz Scholarship Fund, attendees can take home a color print produced on a Xerox Phaser 7800 printer. The cutting edge technology powering the personalized prints is XMPie uDirect® Studio LE, a solution just announced in May that automatically selects the frames it needs from the digital JazzCam experience and automatically creates an attendee’s personalized poster — all in less time than it takes to walk over to the printer.
Yes, with all this technology being put to use at the Jazz Fest, it is hip to be square!