This public-sourced case offers the experiences of a storied American company to set the stage for an analysis of a company that missed some serious trends in the marketplace and a leader's change reputation within that context. The situation provides an opportunity to explore how to think about and approach a change that involved numerous complex issues such as new products, different competitors, cultural complacency, and people issues. In that regard, the case also provides an opportunity to examine two personnel change issues that every manager deals with—"fit" and "coach-ability."
The case opens with a newly appointed managing director, Tony Chen, chosen to lead Xerox's managed document services (MDS) division, reflecting on his confidence as already having turned around two other divisions at the company. There was a growing urgency within Xerox to implement change, and a new CEO was put in place to get it done. Chen knew that he faced an assignment that could make or break his career. He knew that change was needed, but what to change and how much to change seemed especially important in MDS. His mandate was both change but don't change at the same time. How to balance that tension is a major component in this case. Chen held concerns about one of his senior people to lead an initiative that seemed to be ignored, compensation issues, and whether he should rearrange or let some folks go. Making changes would include unpopular decisions and might just backfire this time.