Full version Xerox Case Study

Xerox Case Study

This print version free essay Xerox Case Study.

Category: Business

Autor: reviewessays 31 March 2011

Words: 1990 | Pages: 8

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 efficiency – operating units were not using MSDC to achieve scale and logistics efficiency.

Clendenin immediately adjusted for this organizational incongruence, by giving the MSDC (now the MDC) a more prominent position in the USMG. In brief, he also made appropriate changes to people, as has been illustrated above, as well as adjusting task definitions such that MDC could appropriately achieve the desired outputs related to greater efficiency and return.

Referencing the Influence Strategies model, Clendenin has clear success with applying persuasion influence (as opposed to Fear or Reciprocity). Using both indirect and direct approaches, Clendenin manages by persuasion upwards and downwards.

In reforming the MSDC to the MDC, Clendenin successfully won executive level endorsement for his multinational strategy. His success with the MDC was just as much attributable to his ability to influence and manage upward with executive groups as it was downward with subordinates.

In managing downwards, Clendenin takes an indirect approach by appealing to personal values. He offers empowerment and fosters learning and development within an working culture that is just as concerned with work-life balance, and personal relationships as it is with bottom-line performance.

In upward management – Clendenin took a direct and indirect approach. First he appealed to present facts, specifically identifying the opportunities and benefits for his multinational approach while stating its direct impact on the stated objectives of achieving increased logistical efficiency and return. Yet he was also successful influencing executive stakeholders by persuasion in appealing to their personal values as it pertained to ego and position. He rarely took credit for his own ideas, rather emphasizing “we” and positioning his strategy as the collective decision of the group or executives that were in charge.


Clendenin’s success with the MDC, specifically in achieving logistical efficiencies and return on assets, as well as his leadership ability using persuasion as influence speaks to his both to his uniqueness at Xerox and his sources of power. Clendenin is, again, something of a paradox. He is non-conformist in his management approach. His source of power is “expert” as opposed to positional or referent power. His power is tied to his formal training in psychology, his experience in the marines and at Xerox and his reputation at Xerox as an outside-the-box manager.

We believe that Hewitt recognizes Clendenin’s value as a non-conformist leader and influencer. Clendenin is considered something of an “ombudsman”, and while that role is often in an outsider capacity, Hewitt appears to recognize the need and value for different perspective in his organization. High performance teams have the ability to value and embrace dissenting opinion. Hewitt and Clendenin’s working relationship follows suit with this high-performance model. While Hewitt is analytical, process oriented and structured – Clendenin brings an element of creativity, diversity of opinion and risk-taking. Clendenin broadens Hewitt’s perspective, while Hewitt reigns Clendenin in making sure he doesn’t “fall off the precipice”.

While Clendenin’s impact at Xerox has been significant, it has been narrow and deep – limited to the MDC and USMG. With this new role, Clendenin has an opportunity to achieve more breadth than depth in his capacity to influence. In this new role, Clendenin would have influence on a global scale, as well as liaising broader corporate functions such as information management, finance, and human resources which is of particular priority for Hewitt.

The downside is that with greater breadth he will lose direct management duties, with little or no direct reports and loss of that direct managerial authority.

Of the options available to Clendenin, we recommend taking the staff position with Hewitt. Clendenin’s success in leveraging culture within the MDC combined with his ability to influence and lead by persuasion is the primary motivation behind Hewitt’s desire to give Clendenin more influence across a broader scope at Xerox. We infer that Hewitt desires to extend Clendenin’s mind-broadening, counter-culture influence more broadly across the organization.

While Clendenin may lose certain management duties associated with the depth-role he once had, the breadth nature of this new role is consistent with his career objective to achieve a cabinet-level government position later in his career. The job role for Hewitt’s staff position appears to be an ideal preparatory experience for that type of cabinet-level role.

While the staff role does not immediately achieve his objective for gaining position as a corporate officer – the role does give him greater visibility and access to the executive landscape at Xerox than his deeper, more narrow role as head of MDC currently does.

We recommended that Clendenin accept the staff role based on the following course of action:

1. Clendenin must set a clear timeline for how long he intends to stay in this role – we recommend 24-36 months. This includes a clear statement of goals and objectives related to the role including what should be accomplished with Information Management, Finance and Human Resources as well as what level of impact is needed globally across the various subsidiaries. The timeline provides him with exit opportunity if his goals are not being met.

2. Clendenin must establish a clear expectation with Hewitt as to what his precise goals are in relation to becoming a corporate officer. Before accepting, Clendenin should expect a mutual career development path to be completed in partnership with Hewitt and any other executive-level stakeholders. This career path takes into consideration Clendenin’s 24-36 month timeline above.

3. We also recommend that Clendenin gain absolute clarity as to what Hewitt’s intentions are related to Clendenin’s capacity to influence Xerox in this role. Clendenin must confirm that his past success at MDC in leveraging culture, leading and managing by persuasion, and serving as a counter-balance voice of positive dissention will be appropriately leveraged in this new role.

These recommendations allow Clendenin to accept this job while confirming that the acceptance will help him achieve his career goals and objectives.