Let’s suppose for a moment that your programs, education, conferences, seminars, products, etc. suddenly ceased to exist. What if all you had were people- staff, members, etc.? Based on your organization’s mission and available talent, how would you rebuild? What would do differently? What would you emphasize more? Less? Why aren’t you doing those things now?
We build our organization’s structure, staff and finances around the products and services we offer. Because of this inherent focus on what we do, the products and services, it’s difficult to set them aside to always do what it right for members.
Last Thursday I gave a presentation on innovation and relevancy using Kodak and IBM as examples.
Kodak went down with the ship so to speak. They had unprecedented profit margins from film, paper and chemicals. They had a whole company built around manufacturing, distributing and selling these products and in the end just couldn’t bring themselves to walk away even though they knew they had to. Kodak turned inward – optimizing film not innovating with digital photography, abandoning their customers and focusing on their short-term gains not long-term success.
IBM’s story is almost a miracle. They turned toward their customers to figure out where they needed to be. Their business was once built around PC’s; selling a good. Now they have diversified and they sell services – software and IT consulting. They did the same thing Kodak should have done – they moved toward a new business model, different structure, different profit margin and a whole new talent base.
I can point to the strategic and tactical things Kodak did wrong and IBM did right. They are still relevant because they:
- Focused on the right things and asked themselves the right questions
- Prioritized customer over legacy product
- Sought innovation over optimization
But that doesn’t answer why. I’m curious about how IBM successfully pulled off the change while Kodak allowed their brand to plow into the ground. Was it mindset? Was it grit? Was it an especially tenacious and risk embracing leadership? Did they start small? Was it luck?
What are those intangibles that allow an organization to ultimately make big changes? What are your thoughts on this? Feel free to reply back on Twitter @SmoothThePath.