Kodak: “Perfect Products” Instead of Permanent Beta

January 15 2012

The subtitle of the book is “Adapt to the Future, Invest In Yourself, and Transform Your Career.” And virtually every day, there’s a headline that reminds us why “adapting to the future” is so important. Whether it’s companies that fail to keep up with technological change, or workers who find themselves with antiquated (or offshorable) skills–a changing world and a changing competitive landscape means that just because a company or individual is successful and relevant today, doesn’t mean they will be successful and relevant a year from now.

In the book, we compare Blockbuster to Netflix. This week, The Economist covers the death of another once-great American company–Kodak–which has faded away like an old, sun-drenched photograph.

Here’s a key paragraph:

Another reason why Kodak was slow to change was that its executives “suffered from a mentality of perfect products, rather than the high-tech mindset of make it, launch it, fix it,” says Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School, who has advised the firm. Working in a one-company town did not help, either. Kodak’s bosses in Rochester seldom heard much criticism of the firm, she says. Even when Kodak decided to diversify, it took years to make its first acquisition. It created a widely admired venture-capital arm, but never made big enough bets to create breakthroughs, says Ms Kanter.

How can you–as a business of one–avoid the fate of Kodak? How can you apply that high-tech mindset of make it / launch it / fix it to your career?

That’s a question we’re going to explore in the weeks ahead.