Fast Company at Xerox Focus Forward

Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company magazine, knows a lot about innovative companies and how they operate. Here are a few of my favorite Bill Taylor lines:

  • The only sustainable form of business leadership is thought leadership
  • It’s not good enough to be pretty good at everything. The middle of the road is the road to nowhere.
  • Originality is the acid test of your strategy

Bill’s one-liners fit the definition of an aphorism rather nicely. (An aphorism is ‘a brief statement of a principle.’) And though I like a good aphorism, I like Bill’s view on innovative companies even more. Like the dialysis provider, DaVita, that let its employees vote on the new company name. (DaVita used to be called Total Renal Care.) Or Lexus, which built a brand new luxury brand to compete with the Cadillacs and BMWs of the world. Or Cirque du Soleil, which reinvented what a circus could be (without animals or big name acts).

So where do you go to become more innovative, and to get some of this insight that might allow you to see things in a different light? One place to try is Xerox’s Focus Forward series, which is where I heard Bill Taylor give a keynote speech. Each Focus Forward event includes a keynote and two breakout sessions (one for managed print services in the office and one for in-plants). I have been presenting on in-plant market trends and talking about the InfoTrends white paper entitled “The Strategic Value of an In-House Printing Operation.” I have also helped Xerox’s Allen Lea moderate the customer panels. A few weeks ago in Philadelphia, we were joined by Mike Schrader, who is responsible for the in-plant production site at Mercury Marine. Each Focus Forward event starts with lunch at which a range of Xerox partners is available for questions at desktop displays. At the event in Philadelphia these partners included Avanti, CGS-Oris, C.P. Bourg, Duplo, EFI, GBC, GMC, NSi, Nuance, Plockmatic, RSA, Solimar, and YSoft. Xerox’s XMPie division was also represented and spoke on an afternoon panel along with CGS-Oris.

This year Xerox has already hosted Focus Forward events in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Honolulu, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. The next event is in Fairfax, Virginia on July 18th and there are two more after that, one in Cincinnati and one in Denver. If you are a Xerox in-plant customer (or prospect) and can get to any of these cities I highly recommend that you attend one of these events. The presentations are valuable, but what I think is even more important is the opportunity to meet and talk to your in-plant (or office) peers face-to-face. If you can’t make it to a Xerox Focus Forward event, you should download and read the InfoTrends white paper entitled “The Strategic Value of an In-House Printing Operation.”

I’ll close with a few more Bill Taylor quotes:

  • The bigger question is not what keeps you up at night but what gets you up in the morning
  • You can’t let what you know limit what you can imagine
  • R&D is’t always about technology, sometimes it’s ‘rip-off & duplicate’
  • Creativity means using what you already know to get beyond what you currently think
  • The challenge is to get your colleagues to see things that others haven’t seen yet

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