In the Face of Change, Values Stay the
Penny Sanchez-Burruss is at the forefront of
technology. Vice president of customer satisfaction and
loyalty at Xerox in Rochester, NY, she has had a
front-row seat to witness the changes in the new
With the speed and rapid technological advancements so
prevalent in today's workforce, Sanchez-Burruss believes
balance is the key to success, and explains how Xerox has
embraced the concept.
How has the new economy affected Xerox?
Xerox, like a lot of companies, is in a
transition to really maximize the opportunities in the
new economy. And that basically is just new ways of
working, new ways of achieving revenue and
How has Xerox used this new technology?
We're looking into optional customer satisfaction
surveys by using the Internet, for example, to expand the
customer experience with Xerox. We're making sure that we
have a vehicle that the customer can use any time they
want. They can go on our Web page and click a button to
give us their opinion. Customers want to interact with us
in a variety of ways and as a company we need to be
prepared to respond to them via the Web, phone, in
What challenges have you experienced?
The challenge is speed. If you're not one of
the early adapters, you can learn from others and then
you don't have to make the same mistakes-you can improve
on their experiences. Therefore, if you're not first, at
least learn from others to be more successful than
Electronic communication has increased. We just
communicated with a lot of our customers about a month
ago and most of it was done electronically. Customers
responded well because they are used to communicating
that way within their businesses.
How do you cater to customers who aren't so
In the communications we did a month ago,
approximately 90 percent were electronic. For the other
10-15 percent we sent hard copies. So we do realize that
there are people at all stages of technology. We try to
be flexible to meet all of our customers'
How has such a large corporation dealt with so
many rapid technological changes?
One of the keys to the new economy is people.
The technological changes are great. Xerox is becoming a
digital company, so the fact that technology is changing
is going to help our business. I would say that the key
to dealing with this rapid technology is leadership
that's open to change.
What about people who are not receptive to
The only thing you can do is role model and
explain to them the value and the benefits of the
changes. The challenge comes when change affects them
personally. I think that's always hard and it's an
unfortunate reality in today's business environment. You
should repeat over and over, "Change is good."
With our tendency to rely on e-mail and the
Internet, how do you feel the lack of "face time" has
affected business relationships?
You need a balanced approach. Relationships
are very important, and yes, I do think you can have a
relationship via e-mail or voice mail. But you do need to
have face-to-face time as well. When the customer has a
problem, they want to know that you've heard them. They
want to know that you care. I do think it's a little
harder, but you can communicate via e-mail. I think that
there's a place for e-mail, Internet and voice mail, but
there's also a place for face-to-face relationship
building as well.
How do you express this personal relationship
with your customers?
I'm a voice mail person. I would much rather
receive a voice mail if something is urgent. But not
everyone's the same. I think it's important that if
you're dealing with a customer that you're trying to
build a relationship with, you should find out how they
want you to communicate with them.
Have Xerox's values changed in the new
Values and principles are things that should
withstand the test of time. We have some very good core
values at Xerox that have been consistent. Values such
• We succeed
through satisfied customer.s
value and empower employees.
deliver quality and excellence in all we do.
All employees are committed to these shared values
and Xerox will be successful in the new economy by
staying true to our values and using new technology to
Insights: Balance is the
Key to Managing Change in the New
Barry Johnson, Ph.D., president of Polarity
Management Associates, Middleville, Mich., knows a thing
or two about balancing the risks and opportunities of the
new economy. He has helped businesses recognize the
importance of managing interdependent opposites, or
polarities, to achieve outstanding success. The key to
survival? Not getting too far ahead or too far behind
Johnson is the author of "Polarity Management:
Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems."
What does the new economy mean to you?
The central dimension of the new economy is the
heightened experience and intensity of interdependence.
The three areas in which I think it shows up most
dramatically are technology, finance and
The new technology enables us to increase the
speed with which we connect with other people and we've
also increased the range of our ability to connect. At
one time I can make a connection with all the people who
are in a significant group interested in polarity
management as a concept, and I can just type one e-mail
and hit one button and all of them get it around the
world relatively quickly.
The second area is in terms of finance. Technology
allows us the awareness of financial interdependence.
There is a much greater awareness of what is going on in
other parts of the world and how that affects us
economically allowing us to make adjustments
The final area of interdependence heightened in
the new economy has to do with the environment. It's the
whole notion that what we do in one part of the world
impacts us in another part of the world. For example, we
know the depleting rainforests in Brazil will eventually
affect us everywhere.
What have been your greatest challenges in the
Not getting ahead or behind technology as a
resource. When we created our interactive program, we
anticipated companies would be able to introduce polarity
management throughout their organization through an
Internet communication system. Most of them didn't have
it at the time and we had to oversimplify our computer
program in order to make sure it would work well with the
technology available in a broad base of companies. If the
company wanted to use it they had to have the capacity to
use it. And at that time, not everyone had a computer at
their desk. We had to make sure that the art looked good
in black and white and in color because many of the
computers were just in black and white. With all that
effort we ended up being a little bit ahead of companies
with the technologies we introduced using the computer
program. At this point, our computer program is now
behind the technology and we need to upgrade it using
what we've learned in the last five years about the
phenomenon of polarities and interdependent opposites and
the new technological advances for Internet
Another important challenge is keeping focused.
Because there is so much opportunity generated by the new
economy, it's easy to lose focus and chase a number of
different opportunities. What we think will help in this
area is to pay attention to what our values are and what
our passion is. And we need to manage both the long term
and the short term. The new economy tends to focus on the
The new economy also focuses on task efficiency.
We need to make sure we're paying attention to task and
focusing on the other pole, relationship. We can pay
attention to the long term and tap the benefits of short
cycle time and short-term efficiency
Have you seen more internal changes occur (employee
attitude and involvement, culture, etc.) or external
changes (customer satisfaction,
seen changes in both. We've been doing quite a bit in the
area of health care and education and what we're finding
is a loss of joy in the work. And I think the reason that
this shows up so dramatically there is because people
tend to enter those two professions because they enjoy
the work itself. The joy is in being driven by the work,
not by the desire to retire early or to make a lot of
money. And increasingly we are finding people under the
pressures of the new economy that the pleasures are going
out of their work and they're not really getting the
richness of pursuing their calling that they had
There's another thing that's happening and
I'm not quite sure how to deal with the phenomenon. Work
has become, for some people, a part of life that you
cleverly get through in order to have the freedom to do
what you really want to do. My daughter, for example, has
a number of friends in San Francisco who are planning to
retire at that time. A couple of the questions that
raises for me are: Will they overtolerate an
unsatisfactory lifestyle and working condition until
they're 40 with the hope that they can put it all behind
them at 40? Will that lead to unhealthy workplaces
because they are seen as just a transition phase? When
they do get through, will they then look at what would be
a healthy life for themselves and will that include
thinking beyond themselves? It's a very self-centered
notion that if you work 80 hours a week you can retire
early-you won't have time to take care of other things,
your children, your community, etc. because you're busy
working towards retirement. What happens if you don't get
that retirement at 40? You've given the early years of
your children's lives and you've given central years of
your life to the dream of early retirement.
It seems everything is moving at an extremely fast
pace. What are some of the drawbacks to this?
I think it provides wonderful opportunities
and it just needs its opposite in order to be useful over
time. And the opposite is slowing down, taking a deep
breath and paying attention to the long haul. Speed tends
to focus on efficiency in the short term so we need to
focus on relationships in the long term as well. We need
to be willing to do things quickly, and intentionally do
things that slow us down. Whether these are personal
vacations or retreats or free time, we need to shift into
that other pole as well. It's not trying to slow down the
speed mechanisms as much as it is incorporating in
combination with increasing speed and efficiency issues.
There was a lot of excitement and energy focused on the
dot-coms but they didn't have adequate grounding and
couldn't pay attention to the long term. That initial
excitement over time was unsustainable and turned into
With the increase in technology and our tendency to
rely on e-mail and the Internet, do you feel that the
lack of "face time" and personal communication and
interaction will hurt business relationships?
Yes, I think so. It's a two-edged sword. We
have the possibility of communicating from our heart as
well as our head through e-mail, but it's less likely. We
need to learn to create settings in which people can tap
their heart and get the work done. I call this the head
and heart polarity, and it's key to retaining employees
to sustain productivity and loyalty.
Do you think organizations that are set in their
old ways have a chance of surviving in this
I believe they have as
great a chance as those who are rejecting the old,
comfortable ways. The stability change polarity becomes
very important. The myth is that those who are holding
onto their old comfortable ways are vulnerable and those
who are moving into changing everything are likely to
succeed. I think that's a half-truth, that you need a
combination of the two.