Kodak’s Big Bet: “To Be or Not To Be”

By Thomas E. Ambler, Senior Consultant

Strategic Planning Expert

Strategic Planning Expert

Reprinted from Course & Direction May 2007

Since the millennium Eastman Kodak Co. has been under attack by a Killer App known as Digital Imaging. In the last several years it has suffered the loss of much of its historical core business (as much as 20% per year) and has had to seek a way to milk its past while reinventing itself as a Digital Imaging company. On February 6, 2007 CEO Perez announced the immediate launch of Kodak’s reinvented inkjet printer and business model surrounding it as means of reinventing Kodak. In its issue Business Week describes the Kodak situation in an excellent and captivating article entitled “Kodak’s Moment of Truth”.

Here is a case of a single high risk opportunity that is likely to be instrumental in transforming a major company. Students of business love to sink their teeth into this kind of case and, with incredible incisiveness based on 20/20 hindsight, glean the kernels of wisdom to share with their less learned siblings. In the real world top management teams don’t get to make their decisions based on 20/20 hindsight. You are likely so much in the thick of things that you suffer some pangs of conscience about separating yourself from operations for even a few days to consider where to take the company in the future (aka Strategic Planning). Naturally, you want to make the most of your time, particularly when considering new opportunities. One of the ways to do that is to subject your major opportunities to a screening tool that forces analysis of the factors that will make it succeed or fail  .Simplified Strategic Planning calls this tool a “Market Based Opportunity Screening Worksheet”.

Let’s step back to 2003 and put ourselves in the shoes of Antonio Perez and his senior management team as they contemplate this pivotal opportunity in the face of an abysmal future. (This happens to be an opportunity for which we can sufficiently visualize the future ahead of time without stooping to 20/20 hindsight and see where the opportunity screening would take us.) You appointed me to complete the Screening Worksheet for the Strategic Planning Team and make my recommendations. Now it is time for you to review my work, challenge my strategic thinking and reach your own conclusions.

Click here for the complete Market Based Opportunity Screening Worksheet.

You may want to read the Business Week article anyway and see just how well the screening draws out the information needed to make at least a tentative decision to proceed or not with an opportunity. Having gone through the screening exercise, I believe, with all of the objectivity I can muster, that it ferrets out and presents the pertinent information every bit as well as a Business Week senior writer. Here is yet another confirmation that Simplified Strategic Planning has the power to guide top leaders through the bewildering maze of alternative directions.

How about Kodak’s decision to proceed forward? What is your assessment of this new inkjet offering with its disruptive business model. Will it be sufficient “to be or not to be” the silver bullet that permits Kodak “to be or not to be” as much a winner in the future as it was in the past? Will you root for them? Will you buy their stock? Won’t it be fun in several years to engage in 20/20 hindsight and see how smart we were when we wore the shoes of the Kodak team?

*** Now that it is several years after this article was first published, please “engage in 20/20 hindsight” and comment on this blog.

Information Sources:

  1. Steve Hamm, 2007, “Kodak’s Moment of Truth,” Business Week, February 19
  2. Kodak Press Release, February 6, 2007, “Kodak Revolutionizes the Inkjet Industry,”www.kodak.com
  3. MLPF&S (Merrill Lynch) Research Report, February 13, 2007, “Eastman Kodak Co.–Looking Past the Restructuring”
  4. Morningstar Research Report, February 13, 2007, “Eastman Kodak–Kodak Enters Inkjet Printer Market”
  5. Ford Equity Research Report (BNY Jaywalk), March 2, 2007, “Eastman Kodak”

Tom Ambler is a Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc.  He can be reached by email at ambler@cssp.com

© Copyright 2014 by Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI — Reprint permission granted with full attribution.

Tom Ambler
 

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