[Hang with us: This a long post, but it makes a critical point about how the pursuit of truth is indispensible if leaders want their organizations to thrive long-term.]
The recent reports of Kodak taking itself into bankruptcy highlight a classic tale of a successful, profitable company overwhelmed by the need to reinvent itself, and failing to take action fast enough to maintain its market position. In keeping with our belief that the Pursuit of Truth is critical to long-term survival in business, we see Kodak as a poster child for a company that denied the truth, and paid for it. We plan on reminding our clients about this on a regular basis to keep them focused on pursing truth in all aspects of their business, whether or not it fits their current business plan.
The Great Irony: Kodak invented the technology that destroyed it.
A Kodak engineer invented digital imaging way back in 1975. Indeed, the company continued to set the pace technologically in digital imaging for decades. Yet, somehow the commercial successes accrued to the camera makers at Canon, Olympus and others, not Kodak. They failed to dominate the new digital world as they had the analogue film world for most of the 20th Century. Why? Because they never truly changed their corporate mindset that Kodak was in the film business. What should they have done? Their best move would have been a simple shift in corporate mindset: Redefine themselves as being in the imaging business rather than the film business, and put all their marketing resources to work to make sure consumers knew it. That clear change in positioning would have allowed them to retain their film business while simultaneously leading the move into digital. Ultimately they did try to expand what Kodak meant to consumers, but dragged their feet so long that camera buyers never took them seriously as a digital imaging company. Continue reading