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Introduction - The Start To A Downfall As Xeroxs stock has been plunging up and down the last few months the search for a guilty party is on Many have pointed an accusing finger at the companys inability to invoice customers correctly So why would Xerox one of the most respected corporations and an acknowledged IT leader - be hurt by something so ordinary The answer can be found in understanding a sequence of leadership misjudgments A few essential events can permanently deflect an enterprise toward its rise or demise Xeroxs fate can be traced back to 1983 when conflicts between its computer-oriented innovators and xerography focused sales force were settled by dooming the inventions from the companys Palo Alto Research Center to being technological geniouses without competent marketing to sell them Shortly thereafter Xerox management crippled itself from participating in the information races altogether by taking much of its cash and investing it in safer business lines such as insurance The companys outdated image best known as a maker of old-style high priced copiers is just one of the problems at Xerox once considered a symbol of corporate success Its products were so popular in the 1960s and 70s that it fought to ensure that Xerox did not become a generic verb for photocopying But profits are down sharply a failed sales force reorganization has separated customers and its stock price has plunged to one-third of its value a year ago In March the company announced it would slash 5200 jobs and close manufacturing plants to reduce its cost structure so it could stay competitive with companies such as Hewlett-Packard Canon and Ricoh And both the company and the Securities Exchange Commission are investigating accounting irregularities involving its Mexican operations In April 1999 the company made Rick Thoman its chief executive Thoman was a former IBM executive credited with helping to engineer that companys turnaround At the
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