How can an iconic brand like Kodak be facing bankruptcy?

by | Feb 8, 2012 | News

Nicky Little from Cirrus writes for Human Resources magazine

At one time Kodak’s market-leading position looked unassailable. Kodak, like Hoover, was a brand name that defined an industry. However, all successful brands need nurturing. They need great people to grow them. The best brands constantly innovate and are swift to adapt and change. And sometimes that can be very hard to do.

In this article, Nicky explores what happened when Kodak failed to keep pace with the shift from film to digital technology, and draws on the example of IBM as an organisation which transformed itself in order to sustain its success in a rapidly changing marketplace.

Many organisations are open to fostering innovations which can enhance their standing in existing markets, but a lot less keen on ideas that might tear that market apart. Often leaders become increasingly cautious and risk-averse in the kind of tough economic climate we’re currently experiencing. However it is precisely during tough times that innovation needs to be prioritised, and new ideas brought to market quickly. Leaders need to create climates for innovation, where people can experiment, use their initiative, and feel free to make a few mistakes without fear of retribution.

Recently, there have been ripples of unrest around another apparently bulletproof market leader. Tesco’s market share has dropped slightly and the company has issued its first profit warning in 20 years. Like Kodak, Tesco’s success has always been closely linked to innovation. CEO Philip Clarke has pledged to shake up the business, and the big challenge is to maintain the innovation and agility which have been so central to Tesco’s success.

Kodak, IBM and Tesco have all been great innovators. Kodak failed to capitalise on the invention of the digital camera which revolutionised its marketplace. It wasn’t open enough to innovation or swift enough to bring it to market. IBM was also unreceptive to innovative ideas beyond its successful core business, but realised this in time to avert complete disaster by embracing new opportunities. Tesco has always been innovative and swift to bring new ideas to market. Can its leaders, now under pressure, continue to build a culture which encourages innovation and ground-breaking ideas ? And just as importantly, can it turn these ideas into a profitable reality?

Please click here to read Nicky’s article in full.

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