The fifth chapter in Business Adventures by John Brooks is all about bringing the Xerox machine to market (read my reviews on chapters 1, 2, 3, & 4).
This was a fascinating tale of a company making huge bets and some brilliant scientists making huge leaps forward on the wave those big bets created. What’s interesting is that Xerox wasn’t too indifferent from the Ford Edsel (at least in terms of scale the business was taking on). Yet the approach was more measured and risks were remedied quickly. In the case of the Edsel, for some odd reason the assumption was that the few cars that were lemons were just that lemons and not a canary in the factory for the quality of the cars coming off the line. The repairs took much longer to implement in Ford’s case and the story of Xerox proves that huge risks need to be taken boldly and modestly at the same time if they are going to be successful. This is true in investing (heads I win a lot, tales I lose a little) as it is in building businesses.