A Failure of Strategy


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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 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.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alan Gregerman
Alan Gregerman is an award-winning author, consultant and keynote speaker who has been called "one of the most original thinkers in business today" and "the Robin Williams of business consulting." His work focuses on helping companies and organizations to unlock the genius in all of their people in order to deliver the most compelling value to their customers.


  1. Hello Alan

    Every strategy is a bet on the future and what course of action will deliver the desired outcome. In a complex world it is simply not possible to predict the future and thus pick the course of action from a multiplicity of courses. Furthermore, the playing board is dynamic: customers, their needs, their behaviours, the direct competitors and the competitors that come out of nowhere.

    Being a critic is easy: the critic has the benefit of hindsight. Having seen the outcome he can then play wise and say what the course of action should have been. When you are the author it is a different matter – you do not know how things will turn out

    You have made a big assumption (and a common one) that the rational course of action is for management to select a course of action that ensures the survival of the company over the long term. When you are the CEO or the Board the rational course of action is to take the course of action that is best for you given the fact that you will only be around for 24 months!

    Finally, revolution (dramatic change) is not always the best course of action. There is absolute no evidence to back that up. When you dramatically change direction you can just as easily fall of the cliff!


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