How to kill your business !!!

The-first-Kodak-camera-ca-005“Companies must solve a cultural and accounting dilemma that serves as a barrier to innovation” – Globe and Mail

In 1889 and at the age of thirty-five, George Eastman – a high school drop-out and bank clerk- founded a company that would go on to hold a dominant position in the photography industry: Kodak. Eastman was one of the great philanthropists of his time, donating over $100 million to charitable causes, establishing schools for music, medicine, dentistry, and clinics for low-income families. Kodak was so successful that by the late 70’s the company had a 90% market share of photographic film sales in America.

In 1975, Kodak would go on to pioneer the digital film technology – an innovation that would later transform the world of photography. Unable to focus on this new innovative product, because of perceived lower returns, Kodak dumped it for their more profitable analog business. Fast forward 40 years and the digital industry has completely overshadowed the analog business. It is estimated that around 2.5 billion people in the world have a digital camera. It wasn’t until the 90’s that Kodak began to plan a decade-long journey to move to digital technology. They were casual in their approach to innovation and became a casualty at the end of the day. Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on January 19th, 2012.

“If all you do is play it safe, the cost just to stay in the game will whittle you down until you’ve got nothing left.”- Peter Pachal

One way to kill your business is to stop innovating. Some key lessons from Kodak’s story are:

Continuous creative innovation must become a culture and not a buzz word or the flavor of the month.
Innovation must be practiced, recognized and rewarded throughout the organization.
Short term gains must be balanced with a long term approach to planning and strategy.
CEO compensation should have an element of innovation in it. Perhaps the present value of the future value creation of innovative products, services and processes can be embedded in the compensation formula.
It’s no more enough to keep up with the changing market; we must lead or drive the change in the market.
The key to sustained success is continuous innovation
We must not be afraid to let go of the old ways of doing things for a new and innovative way
We must constantly measure the relevance of our business models with current and future trends.
We must be passionate about innovation and be willing to take the necessary risks to promote innovative products, services and processes
Ideas are the seeds of innovation. We must create two things: an environment to nurture and encourage innovative ideas and, an innovation process for these seeds of ideas to grow, mature, and bear fruit

“Innovation— any new idea—by definition will not be accepted at first. It takes repeated attempts, endless demonstrations, monotonous rehearsals before innovation can be accepted and internalized by an organization. This requires courageous patience.”— Warren Bennis

Patrick is an Educator and a Teacher with core competencies in the area of business model innovation, leadership, strategy, financial valuations and analysis. Patrick also has a Master of Science degree in Engineering, – Process Control – and, a Master of Arts degree in Economics, both from Queen’s University. He’s currently enrolled in the Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA program. graduating May 2015. Patrick is currently the CEO of EBChim Strategy and Innovation Research, Ontario, Canada.

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