Photography giant Kodak, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012, actually invented the digital camera. Steve Sasson and his team from the Kodak Apparatus Division Research Laboratory created the breakthrough innovation in 1975.
However, the team was met with puzzled managers who could not comprehend why customers would ever want to view photographs on a monitor. Their business was optimized for developing photographs-making paper film and other supplies-not capturing memories.
What we see from Companies like Kodak is what goes on in most start-ups as they grow; cashflows stabilize, growth sets in and money seizes to be an issue. And for such they become optimized for what is creating the cashflows and neglect innovation. Innovation and on-going operations are always and inevitably in conflict thereon. The flip side to concentrating on operations and neglecting innovation is that a Company becomes rigid and tired.
As a leader of Innovation, you need to exercise flexibility (balance operations and innovation). One of the hall marks of truly adaptive and resilient companies is that they continually disrupt themselves in search of new opportunities and markets.
If there’s anything to learn from Kodak it is;
Build the Culture of innovation: Taking great innovators like Steve Sasson and putting them into a pathological culture doesn’t change the culture-it breaks the spirit of the innovator.
You cannot hire your way to innovation by neglecting the culture that nurtures innovation.
Credit: Sudesh Kaka.