Monday, July 27, 2009

More XRX dna on the loose: Goodwill's new CEO has a familiar face and the opportunity for Vertis

Goodwill's new CEO has a familiar face:
"Tom Andrews, who previously lived in El Paso and was on Goodwill's board during 2002-2007, has left his job as regional manager of technical service for Xerox in Edmond, Okla., to take the El Paso position, Goodwill reported. Andrews worked 32 years for Xerox and covered Oklahoma, Kansas, western Missouri, and northwestern Arkansas in his last job for the company.
The reason I fell in love with Xerox, way back in the day, was the people who worked there. When a job at Xerox meant a life time career their people had the time and security to get better and better. The previous CEO started by selling copiers. The present CEO started as a summer intern. Even today I don't know of another global that has had two women in a row at the top. Plus the diversity of top management is still pretty amazing.

And of course, there is Xerox PARC. That was where the organization's dna combined to invent most of the tools that have driven the evolution of the media world we now live in. Ethernet, the GUI, postcript just to name a few. Then in the early 90's those tools came together in the Docutech and the digital printing revolution went mainstream.

But an organization that thrived in the 20th century is dysfunctional in the 21st. While it is still true, for a while, that in large organizations "nobody ever got fired for buying Xerox" that's coming to an end in the face of global competition. So the teams of people that lived in a protected environment find themselves in a ruthlessly competitive environment.

While Xerox reorganizes itself, those teams either leave or are "excessed" under the pressures of "Wall Street" demanding higher profit numbers, while disregarding the real measures of organic growth. Thankfully that is starting to change. Today's lede at Reuters was
* Q2 EPS 16 cts vs estimate 11 cts* Profit helped by cost-cutting, margin improvement * Q2 Revenue declined 18 percent * Revenue seen pressured in rest of year due to economy* Shares up more than 9 pct
Quincy Allen and Michael Kucharsky at Vertis
The XRX teams that find new homes have their unique dna's and 10,000+ hours of reflective practice. As Gladwell explains in Outliers, that's what you need to be great.

I bet XRX dna will be the kernels of the communication world in the 21st century. But to spread throughout an organization needs a minimum of three. Five is usually too many. Two is just not enough. If there is another one at Vertis, perhaps coming from inside the Vertis organization, my hope is that Vertis is going to scale clickable print help fix high school education and the health delivery system.

They'll probably also do well in marketing. While marketing is interesting-to-them it is not as interesting-to-me. The margins in marketing are just going to get smaller and besides most Americans don't need more stuff. They need more smart and better health.

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