PROPHETS IN THE DARK by David Kearns

PROPHETS IN THE DARK

How Xerox Reinvented Itself and Beat Back the Japanese
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An insider's earnest report on how Xerox won, lost, and regained control of the multibillion-dollar global market it launched in plain-paper copiers. In collaboration with business-consultant Nadler, Kearns (Xerox's CEO from 1982 to 1990) presents the Xerox turnabout as a paradigm of the war between US industry and its offshore rivals, most notably the Japanese. He begins, however, with an engaging account of xerography's origins and wonder years. From a near standing start in 1959, when it introduced the 914 office copier, Xerox became an overnight success story. While annual revenues topped $1 billion by 1968, prosperity brought complacency. During the late 1970's, the company lost ground to the Japanese, and, by 1982, when Kearns took command, Xerox's piece of the worldwide action in copiers had been halved, to just over 40%, and the company was in real danger of floundering. With support from a small circle of aides (so-called ``prophets in the dark''), Kearns mounted a remarkable comeback campaign built on a thoroughgoing commitment to quality--and the Series 10 machines that enabled Xerox to regain market share. The collateral benefits of the makeover were impressive by any standard. By the late 1980's, the company had slashed assembly costs by almost 50% while doubling output and improving performance by substantive margins. Kearns attributes Xerox's new-found capacity to beat Asian adversaries at their own game to many factors, including innovative production techniques, greater receptivity to new ideas, and a multinational approach to manufacturing as well as marketing. Whether Xerox's recovery is unique or may serve as a model for others, though, is difficult to determine from the authors' commentaries, which are longer on broad perspectives than practical advisories. Valuable, if solemn, first-person insights on the price of renewal from a professional executive who knows the territory. (Sixteen pages of b&w photos--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-88730-564-4
Page count: 320pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1992




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