Greetings. It was definitely a bad week for American business icons as two great brands filed for bankruptcy protection. First, our dear friends at Hostess decided to bake a brand new plan for overcoming declining sales and a shortage of dough (or capital). And now Kodak, the company synonymous with photography, has entered the dark room of reorganization in the hope of reemerging with a new and brighter image of its future. In the case of Kodak, we can lay most of the blame on a failure of strategy and an unwillingness to leave the past in order to create the future.
Strategy is about making choices about offerings and customers. Tough choices. And in the world of technology it often means giving up on our old, reliable and adored technologies as we place a bet on what will come next. Which makes it even more troubling when we are the ones who have figured out what will come next and are unwilling to make it happen. Because Kodak actually invented digital photography–way back in 1975–but never made the commitment or the investment to become the market leader. Choosing instead to believe that there would always be a gigantic market for film and film-based cameras. That they would dominate. Just like the market for mainframe computers, vinyl records, Sony Walkmen and brick and mortar bookstores.
And adding to the sadness of Kodak's decline is the reality that the company's main competitor in the old world of photography, Fujifilm, is thriving today as a diversified company with strong and very successful offerings in digital cameras, specialty films, medical imaging, digital services and optical devices. The result, one can only imagine, of a clear strategy aimed at exposing the limitations of its core business in order to reinvent a prosperous future.
We win in business and in life when we are willing to make dramatic changes required to survive and prosper. And when we have the guts to give up those parts of the past that won't get us to the future.