Lots of press swirling around the impending bankruptcy of Kodak. While Kodak suffers, its long-time rival Fujifilm is doing rather well. Why? Is it innovation or is it discipline? (See March 4, 2011 Blog, post Which is the Winning Strategy? Innovation or Discipline for Part I)

At one time, Kodak was one of the most innovative and disciplined companies in the world, with a rigorous approach to manufacturing. And, discipline is more than discipline in production; discipline also is a disciplined approach to the market – recognizing AND acting on changes in market dynamics.

Kodak and Fuji both saw digital coming. Fuji acted, Kodak was complacent. (Success breeds arrogance?)

Fuji continued their film business while diversifying into other business lines.  They were consistent and disciplined in their approach to new markets. They identified market opportunities, invested in exploring the new markets and when satisfied the opportunity was there, had the vision and leadership to move forward with the investment and organizational changes required to reconstruct their business model.

Kodak on the other hand, dabbled in opportunities while never making the  investment and organizational changes required to adapt to the new world. They became a victim instead.

For me, as a leadership coach, this story of Kodak and Fuji, raises the following questions for CEO’s and leaders of successful businesses:

  • What is the equivalent of the digital camera for us?
  • Are we noticing when we are becoming complacent?
  • Are we in tune with market changes and prepared to act in a disciplined manner?
  • Do we have the cash or sources of capital to make the investment in diversification?
  • Are we willing to make the uncomfortable organizational changes necessary to diversify into new markets?

The Economist details the story of both companies in this article, “The last Kodak moment?”

Elisa K. Spain


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