Brad’s Blog

I thought it would be interesting to have a blog on this site, to allow discussion about Kodak in general, and the Pictures, Pop Bottles and Pills book in particular, with the basic idea of improving our mutual learning about what happened over time.

I would like to start with my first two conclusions in Chapter 8, “So Why Didn’t It Work?” They were:

  1. Kodak did not sufficiently clarify what business it was in. Chemicals? Coated Consumables? Film? Pictures?
  2. Kodak did not exhibit constancy of purpose in the picture business (nor in any of the other possible choices you may prefer).

These two conclusions came to me after analyzing all the data collected in the previous seven chapters, and they now seem to me to be obviously true. Does it seem that way to you?

A question that has popped up that I found interesting is: “Have these two points been made by anyone else previously in regard to the Kodak bankruptcy?” Granted, Peter Drucker used to ask the question “What business are you in?” and W. Edwards Deming made the first of his famous “14 Points” about constancy of purpose. I referenced this work by both of these heroes of mine in the book, but has anyone else before me put these two points together specifically regarding Kodak? I have recently skimmed through several gigabytes of Kodak articles I amassed while doing research, and have asked a few close business colleagues their opinion, but so far nothing has arisen.

One the one hand, this question seems somewhat academic, but on the other hand, if it’s really obvious, why hasn’t it come up before now? Perhaps the Drucker and Deming points seem obvious but tend to get overlooked because maybe they are not? Now, that would be interesting, and perhaps, non-obvious.

1 thought on “Brad’s Blog

  1. Well, I certainly don’t know the inner workings at Kodak but I would suspect that your your two conclusions are all of the above. True, obvious, and overlooked. So its a good question to ask why. I’ve seen “the obvious” ignored far too often in the world. What I’d suggest is that to a large degree it may simply be human nature. From an outsiders point of view, Kodak didn’t clearly transform itself away from a diminishing paper-centric business and into the digital age. To do that though would’ve required a drastic and concerted effort to fight not only the internal Kodak human nature that likes to avoid change, but also their customer’s view of what Kodak was. Which, almost more importantly, was that Kodak was a film-based company in a world moving away from film. Take this as an example: If Kodak would have changed their name to Digi-Photo I would expect that both Kodak and their customers would have started to change their view of what Kodak does. But Imagine how hard it would have been to give up on that Kodak brand. I’m not saying that a name change would have kept them out of bankruptcy, only how hard it is for people to let go of successes of the past….even if its obvious that they need to do so.

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