By Robert Palmer, Palmer Consulting

Teams and teamwork: how you have your team configured makes a big difference in today’s business world. So says Richard Karlgaard, columnist and publisher for Forbes and the keynote speaker at Xerox’s recent Focus Forward event held in Chicago. Karlgaard covered a lot of ground in the keynote address, but his discussion around the “soft virtue” of teamwork really resonated with me and tied perfectly with what turned out to be the theme of the day.  Voice of the Customer: Change is Easier When You Involve the Team

One of the real advantages to attending the Focus Forward events is the opportunity to hear directly from customers—those who are deep in the midst of transformation and dealing with the challenges involved in that process. In Chicago, Xerox asked two such customers to tell their stories: Bill Rouse from US Foods and James McDonald Jr. from ING. Both described how the transition to managed print services (MPS) has not only reduced costs but more importantly, helped drive operational efficiencies throughout their organizations.

During the course of the day, the conversation consistently reverted back to the issue of change management. While most recognize the benefits associated with MPS, many still search for the best way to communicate those benefits to their employees. The fear of change remains a difficult obstacle to overcome—especially for employees that feel threated by that change. One question that seems to surface at every event: how do we deal with employees who simply do not want to give up their desktop printers?

Interestingly, both Rouse and McDonald shared similar experiences and meaningful insight. The secret lies in making sure that employees are invested in the process. First, educate employees up front on the entire value proposition and explain how they stand to benefit from MPS: through reduced costs to improved productivity and better environmental policies. More importantly, involve individual employees in the ongoing process of transformation. Let them carry the message for you. Teamwork, after all, will make the difference.


Robert Palmer is an independent market analyst and industry consultant. With more than 20 years of experience in the printing industry, he has covered technology and business for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. He was managing editor of the Hard Copy Observer for six years and more recently served as director of office document services for Photizo Group. Mr. Palmer recently formed Palmer Consulting, an independent consultancy covering the imaging market.