ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

November 1998


Xerox Documents Success

Soup's On

The Power Of Senior Teams

The Talk Around The Office


Total Quantity Management
by Peter Block

New Tools For Business Success
by Gregory P. Smith


Brief Cases
Business News Briefs

Views for a Change

Book Review


Xerox Documents Success

NFC: What is the difference between what Xerox is doing, for example with customer satisfaction, and what other companies are doing?
Sanchez-Burruss: There are some things that are unique. I think that one of the keys for Xerox is how it all fits together in our Xerox Management Model. It’s a holistic process so that it’s not just a one-off program. How we look at our customers and how we understand whether they are loyal or not has alot to do with business results and also our internal processes.

So when we look at customer satisfaction and loyalty, we are looking at employee satisfaction and business results at the same time. It’s not just one thing. Another key for success has really been our senior leadership. Certain strategies work well bottoms-up and certain strategies still do work well top-down. Our success in winning the Baldrige had a lot to do with our senior leaders. They said, "This is where we want to go. This is how we are going to get there.”

NFC: The Xerox Management Model includes goals and strategies, what company wouldn't be doing this?
Sanchez-Burruss: I think you are right. Most companies have strategic plans, short and long-term goals. The part that is unique is the way the Xerox Management Model works. Many processes and models look great on paper, but don't work if you don't use them day in and day out. If you're not really using them to run your business, then you can't get the full effects of them. We've been using the Xerox Management Model for so long that it is now part of our management system. We are truly using it to run the business.

NFC: What's been the challenge in doing that?
Sanchez-Burruss: The challenge over the years has been in really using it. It takes a disciplined approach to use it throughout the organization. And then making sure that everyone in the organization is using the same strategy, the same tools, the same management model to evaluate the business. An example is the assessment process. And that's a major discipline—if you don't do the assessment process then you can't get better.

NFC: Do you think all Xerox employees understand this assessment process?
Sanchez-Burruss: No, I would say the majority of the managers definitely do. It's really more of a management tool. It's how we run our business. If you, as the Baldrige examiners did, go out and touch base with our employees, I would say approximately 99 percent of our managers know about the Xerox Management Model and understand it. But our frontline employees know it exists. They know that they have annual objectives and they know how their objectives fit in with their organization’s objectives. And they also have specific job responsibilities but they wouldn't approach it as the Xerox Management Model.

NFC: One of the things that you look at, in your employee satisfaction survey, is trust. What kinds of questions measure trust from the employee’s perspective?
Sanchez-Burruss: There is a list of attributes that employees indicate are the most important in their work environment. Trust comes up as a top item that employees want to have in their environment.

NFC: What do you think people mean when they say they want a trusting environment?
Sanchez-Burruss: It means that you can make a mistake. I think that's the biggest one. One of the major planks to our Change Strategy is the fact that we were becoming a learning organization. If we truly are a learning organization, it’s OK to make mistakes and that's probably the biggest test. Because if you made a mistake and your boss says, “You're fired,” then you said, "Wait a minute, you told me I could make mistakes. I thought I was empowered.”

NFC: Xerox describes itself as a learning organization. Many times that translates into training. Do you see a learning organization going beyond training?
Sanchez-Burruss: We don't use training and learning organization interchangeably. Training would be something you really need to know for your job. You need to get trained on the mechanics of your job, that's not going to change. But let's just take our managers for example. One of the things all of our employees have been exposed to are the Covey Seven Habits. Now that wasn't training, I didn't need that for my job necessarily. It wasn't a skill, but it was learning.

We also have engaged with Peter Senge. One of the things we took away from that was “having dialogues.” It’s OK to have a dialogue with someone. You're just talking and from that dialogue you're learning something and that counts as learning. For example, we start many meetings with a dialogue and we call it “dimension sharing”. And we'll just think of a topic and, as a team, spend 30-45 minutes on a dimension sharing topic. Now, when we first started doing this people were just sitting going, “Oh my gosh. This is just such a waste of time. We could have been out of the meeting 45 minutes earlier.” But when you stick to it and you do it, at the end of the day you say, “We are a closer team, we know each other better, those dimension sharings were fun and it's a way to bring fun into the business.”

NFC: Xerox is noted for hiring people with the ability to delight customers. Is there a litmus test for that?
Sanchez-Burruss: In the past we were looking at skill set only. And now that has changed. We are really looking for people who are really motivated to delight customers, be customer amazers. Because we think that if they have that as part of their innate ability then all we need to do is teach them the techniques. (This is one of the key attributes we look for in a candidate.)

NFC: Xerox developed a process called “Taking Action.” What is that?
Sanchez-Burruss: The “Taking Action” document is a tool. It’s designed to help a manager conduct a feedback session after the employees have taken the employee satisfaction survey. We conduct the employee satisfaction survey once a year. Four weeks after you take the survey, the manager gets the feedback. The manager analyzes the feedback and uses the Taking Action document to help take their employees through a feedback session. No matter who you are, no matter how good a manager you are, you can always find something to take action on.

NFC: Through this whole process, what has been the biggest frustration for you? What keeps you up at night?
Sanchez-Burruss: You know that one is a difficult question for me. I had a good survey. My concern, of course, is just to keep doing the good things that I have been doing. If I were to expand your question I would say it's the things that the employees are frustrated about that you as the manager don't have control over.

NFC: Such as?
Sanchez-Burruss: Such as pay. Pay is always a big one. I don't think we even ask it specifically anymore. We used to ask, “Do you feel you are fairly paid?” Well, does anybody? No matter what, you want to make more.

NFC: In terms of customer satisfaction/loyalty, what are you struggling with?
Sanchez-Burruss: I would say that there are some really good programs and techniques that we have. We have a culture that is empowered. The thing that gets frustrating is the amount of change that each operation adds to various programs. Employees say, "Well, in my operation we want it this way." And a part of that, we do let happen because they are really good improvements. Some of these programs have to be used or tried to have the positive effects on your business. And I think a lot of times we don't have the discipline and time to try a program, as is, before we change it.

NFC: Time is an issue, but many times a reflection of, “I don't see the value in it?” If there is real value in the process or procedure and it was really going to help improve business, why wouldn't I use it?
Sanchez-Burruss: I think you're right. The problem is that some of these things take time to show the value and we are part of a generation that wants it now. If you can't show me the benefit today, then I am going to put it lower in my priority. In this world of increased productivity, you have to do more. And we are constantly challenging everybody at Xerox to do more than they did the day before—than they did last year. And at some point you just continually prioritize. If you can only get to the top two or three things and that particular program is number five, you might not get there.

NFC: After winning the Baldrige, what happens next? What are the next challenges?
Sanchez-Burruss: One of the things we are doing in the United States is helping our local operations, if they would like to, apply for their local state awards. So we are going to take it one step down organizationally and then have them try to showcase what they are doing at their local operation and compete for their state awards. I think its just a great idea because its supporting and keeping Baldrige in front of us.

And the second thing we are doing is continually reflecting back on the feedback that we got from Baldrige to help us make better decisions.

NFC: Xerox Business Services has been recognized for its leadership in diversity. What have been the challenges of that for the organization in terms of embracing diversity? Has it been an easy task?
Sanchez-Burruss: I would say no, it’s not an easy task. Senior management has to keep their eye on diversity and has to manage it all the time. It’s like any other business objective, you take your eye off of it—you lose the focus. It’s an ongoing challenge because right when you think you got all the right numbers (if you are working from a numbers standpoint) someone can get promoted. It has to be a part of your overall management process and people development process.

NFC: But diversity as you said is more than just a numbers game.
Sanchez-Burruss: It really is more than numbers. One aspect of diversity is the Balanced Workforce targets and, as any organization, we have specific numbers and targets because diversity is greater than ethnicity. It has to do with your religious background, it has to do with the diversity of thought, sexual orientation, etc. All of that comes under diversity and as an organization we need to be sensitive and embrace everyone. This will ultimately be our differentiator as a business.

NFC: And the payoff in that for the business is?
Sanchez-Burruss: Well, it's a huge payoff because 1+1= 3. You know, you will only be as good as the combination of all your people. I have a small staff, but we will work on a project and before we go live with it, we will go to our advisory board and ask them for input. You are going to get a diverse group of people and a diverse group of ideas, but when we are done we have such a better product than we would have had, had we just thought of it as one team and put it out to the organization.

NFC: Well I think you make a good point that diversity goes beyond ethnicity. It really becomes a value of being able to embrace all kinds differences.
Sanchez-Burruss: It really has to become a value. The managers that value diversity in the long run, win!

NFC: In terms of customer loyalty, what's the one thing you would say, “Don't take your eye off of this?”
Sanchez-Burruss: I would say the number one thing that I would advocate to any company is to train every employee on what you expect from them in working with customers. Our “Customer First” strategy was communicated to every employee.

So the number one thing I would say to another company is: Communicate your strategy to every employee, establish a common language and a common level of expectations around your customer first strategy. Everyone needs to see themselves and understand their role in delivering the “Customer First” Strategy.”

NFC: What do you use for inspiration? What are you reading?
Sanchez-Burruss: Oh, I read all the time. I just finished reading "Conversations with God" which has had a major impact on my life and I just loved it. I know it's a little controversial because I know some people either love it or hate it.

And I'm listening to a business book on tape called “Customer Intimacy: Pick Your Partner, Shape Your Culture, Win Together,” by Fred Wiersema.

I’m always reading something to ensure I stay positive and focused so that I can maximize this lifetime.

November '98 News for a Change | Email Editor

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