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Xerox Case Study

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Autor:   •  March 31, 2011  •  1,990 Words (8 Pages)  •  2,124 Views

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Problem Summary

John Clendenin is at a career crossroads. While he has achieved swift advancement in a relatively short amount of time at Xerox, he is now faced with role options that appear, prima facie, to be lateral in nature. Clendenin's boss, Fred Hewitt has made two clear offers to Clendenin: remain as head of Xerox's Multinational Development Center (MDC) with a two-year commitment, or transition to a staff support position on Hewitt's staff.

While Clendenin's success and ascension at Xerox is attributed to his role at the MDC, an additional two-year commitment is certainly not an advancement in role or position at Xerox. Clendenin also has to deal with the current pressure from Hewitt to cut MDC budget and headcount substantially.

Taking the staff opportunity with Hewitt, is a clear change in role - but is it aligned with Clendenin's ultimate career objectives? Based on Clendenin's history and success at Xerox, is there equity in relation to what he's done and what he is now being offered? Do the job characteristics for this new role meet his needs for personal and career growth - and do the characteristics align with Clendenin's natural skill-set?

Clendenin has set clear, defined career goals and objectives for himself. He intends "to be successful enough to be a corporate officer in a Fortune 50 corporation and on the boards of several others, and eventually to be appointed to a cabinet-level position in our government." Clendenin must now examine how these options may align to his career goals.


John Clendenin is something of paradox. In terms of cultural alignment, John's past experience and current success at Xerox would suggest that there is a high level of alignment between John's working style and the culture at Xerox. In reciting his rejection of more lucrative offers in other industries, John states that "[he] felt very comfortable. The corporate culture of Xerox is in many ways the same as the Marine Corps. There is a definite way of doing and an order to things that is often explicit." While John may have a level of experiential comfort based on his Marine background - his history at Xerox is more indicative of a boat-rocker, rather than as one who toes the military line.

Upon his arrival at Xerox, John was immediately "making waves with guys with long-term logistics experience at Xerox." John was anything but risk-averse - and the risks he took produced remarkable results. John's MO of shaking things up, taking risks and finding alternative methods to accomplish tasks was in stark contrast to the Xerox culture of following protocol and status quo.

A danger to Clendenin's counter-culture approach to management at Xerox was the relationship health with co-workers who were long-term Xerox employees or were more entrenched in the traditional Xerox way of doing things. While Clendenin may not have appeased everyone, he did show the ability to maintain inclusivity and cooperation with those who he was either leapfrogging or with whom his work style differed. For example, early in his Xerox career, John was given management duty over 20-year veteran Tom Gunning. Applying a management style that emphasized empowerment, loyalty and cooperation - Clendenin successfully built a working and personal relationship with Gunning - something that was absolutely necessary for Clendenin to exact change via the MDC while maintaining unity within the MDC.

Clendenin's success in building and growing the MDC (formerly MSDC) and in positioning the MDC to influence Xerox efficiency in logistics and return is attributed to his development of a differentiated, counter-culture within the MDC. By example and management style, Clendenin established a guiding vision for the MDC that informed and enabled the groups strategic direction and subsequently determined how the group behaved. The resulting sub-culture in the MDC was in stark contrast to the Xerox culture outside of the MDC.

Clendenin's guiding vision espoused cooperation, unity and innovation. This cultural vision informed his strategic approach in the MDC - which was Multinational Logistics. Xerox operating units were disconnected, self-interested and in many ways siloed. Clendenin found that "the interests of systems managers in the various Xerox operating units did not always align with those of Xerox as a whole."

In building and staffing the MDC, Clendenin went against the standard Xerox "Close-knit society" culture, where someone is badmouthed and black-listed while the rest of the group closes ranks. Clendenin hired individuals from this black-listed group - essentially building a team of non-Xeroxed employee copies who in contrast brought some uniqueness and natural propensity and willingness for change and innovation. While the external perception was of a group of undervalued, "stray cats and dogs" - Clendenin's hired for "intelligence, ability to be motivated, caring, involved and [ability to be] a team player."

Clendenin built a team that was well-positioned to respond to his vision for cooperation, unity and innovation. He reinforced this culture by emphasizing empowerment and trust-building, focusing on career development and goal setting, and emphasizing team over individual. Finding the people that fit this approach, and reinforcing these guiding beliefs in his management methodology directly impacted MDC's success in executing a multinational strategy. Like the culture that Clendenin was fostering, the multinational approach required willingness for change and innovation, commitment to unity and cooperation above self interest.

Looking at the MDC experience through the lens of the congruence model - we can see how Clendenin's approach adjusted for gaps of incongruence. Desired outputs for greater efficiency and return related to Xerox logistics were achieved by assessing and making appropriate changes to formal and informal organizations, people, and tasks.

Clendenin found that the MSDC's formal organization was out of alignment with its informal organization. Formally, the MSDC was charged with developing and maintaining systems that would allow the logistics and distribution operations units to communicate with one another. The most glaring aspect of the MSDC's formal organization was its size, or lack thereof - it was a small group with relatively low influence. The informal organization for MSDC, as it related to and interacted with the global organization of USMG, could be characterized as inert, un-empowered, and disregarded. As was recited earlier, different operating units did their own thing. Whether motivated by convenience, self interest, or perceived


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