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kb3lms
08-28-2012, 11:16 PM
Sorry if I came off a bit harsh above. This film division selling thing has touched a nerve with me. (Read that posting again about the cathartic thing!) Kodak is being thrown around here in 20/20 hindsight as a big, bumbling, corporate, conglomerate of dolts that had no idea what they were doing and that just isn't always the case. There were/are serious issues at 343 State Street and that is a fact. But there were many, many people outside of KO that poured their heart and soul into making things go right at EK. Most of those people are gone now, either just from EK or in many cases from this Earth, and that should be remembered as well.

Signing off, now.

benjiboy
08-29-2012, 07:49 AM
It's very easy for people to pontificate and have opinions on subjects that don't have access to the full fact on, if I knew the correct answer to why Kodak finished up in it's current state I would be teaching economics at one of the Worlds top university s,not sitting here worrying how I'm going to pay the coming winters utility bills.

wblynch
08-29-2012, 09:17 AM
It ended up where it did precisely due to what is taught at the Worlds top universities.

Vampire Economics.

Prof_Pixel
08-29-2012, 10:06 AM
It was a great place to work and they were very, very good to me. Yes, the top level management was completely clueless (starting about 3 levels up from where I was as an engineer in the corporate hierarchy) but whatever Kodak may or may not be, I can't bitch about them as an employer at that time. Not all at Kodak was stupid, not at all, and I worked with a lot of first class people who damn well knew what they were doing.

It was a great place to work and there were lots of great people!

SilverGlow
08-29-2012, 10:27 AM
It's very easy for people to pontificate and have opinions on subjects that don't have access to the full fact on, if I knew the correct answer to why Kodak finished up in it's current state I would be teaching economics at one of the Worlds top university s,not sitting here worrying how I'm going to pay the coming winters utility bills.

There is some truth to what you wrote, and who better then PE and other alumni know better?

However, being on the outside looking in, using one's eyes, ears, reading abilities, and looking at Kodak's history, and current demise, one steps back and sees all this as Self-Evident. And apply one's own business experiences, seeing this same type of thing happen many times before, one gets a good feel for what really happened. No, not in details, but surely at a birds eye view.

In other words, one does not necessarily have to be an insider to get a good feel for why Kodak hit the skids.

railwayman3
08-29-2012, 11:15 AM
There is some truth to what you wrote, and who better then PE and other alumni know better?

However, being on the outside looking in, using one's eyes, ears, reading abilities, and looking at Kodak's history, and current demise, one steps back and sees all this as Self-Evident. And apply one's own business experiences, seeing this same type of thing happen many times before, one gets a good feel for what really happened. No, not in details, but surely at a birds eye view.

In other words, one does not necessarily have to be an insider to get a good feel for why Kodak hit the skids.

My own past experience in business advisory services confirms that exactly. Many very competent business owners and managers are so involved in keeping their business running efficiently day-to-day that they don't step back and review the "bigger picture" of where the business is going in the future, or notice the outside influences and developments which could affect its success.

Sometimes the more busy and profitable a business is, the more difficult it becomes for the owners or managers to have the time or energy to step onto the outside and have a look in!
And their success, often through their own abilities and hard work, can, perhaps understandably, make them reluctant to listen to any outsiders!

SilverGlow
08-29-2012, 11:29 AM
My own past experience in business advisory services confirms that exactly. Many very competent business owners and managers are so involved in keeping their business running efficiently day-to-day that they don't step back and review the "bigger picture" of where the business is going in the future, or notice the outside influences and developments which could affect its success.

Sometimes the more busy and profitable a business is, the more difficult it becomes for the owners or managers to have the time or energy to step onto the outside and have a look in!
And their success, often through their own abilities and hard work, can, perhaps understandably, make them reluctant to listen to any outsiders!

So true...I saw this same thing happen at Apple Computer in the late 1980's and early '90s. Back then they went from feast to famine, and a few times nearly crashed to a complete end. A company that has many highly talented people is still only as good as it's high-echelon management. So when Apple went from crashing to trending up what changed? They mostly had the same people there, but what changed was the top dog...Sculley kicked out, Jobs back in. Kodak needed a Steve Jobs, and had they had one, they'd be flying high today. I suspect one of the big causes of Kodak's demise was too much group-think, commettee thing, and not enough from a passionate crazy dictator!

benveniste
08-29-2012, 11:40 AM
If I knew the correct answer to why Kodak finished up in it's current state I would be teaching economics at one of the Worlds top university s,not sitting here worrying how I'm going to pay the coming winters utility bills.

If you knew why and published an accurate prediction, say, in 1995 or 2000, I might almost agree with you. But hindsight is 20/20, and it's a lot easier to see what went wrong rather than what's going to go wrong.

I say "might almost," because Kodak's problems were not fundamentally problems of economics. They were grounded in organizational behavior, communication, psychology, marketing and leadership. I don't claim to be any sort of expert, and I've been surprised by more than one company that was brought back from the brink and disappointed by lots of others. What I will say is that I sold my Kodak holdings in 2005 at just over $30 per share.

Felinik
08-29-2012, 12:13 PM
Fred, a Kodak Technological Forecasting group (capital letters internally :D ) decided in the late 80s that digital would not become an important imaging method until about 2020. I disagreed with that and went to CPD management with my opinion only to be rebuffed. Message me for details.

PE


They had no risk management at all at that company??

Still, question is what would've happened if cellphone cameras never had become reality?

I have a strong feeling that a lot of people would've still been shooting their old analog cameras if their cellphones, now smartphones, hadn't had a built in camera. Every time I am at the local photo store here, tons of low-sumers are there to get prints done, from their memorycards, which for them is the same thing as a roll of film (though reusable). And today the cameras in the phones are as good as any Point-And-Shoot-Digital, or as any compact 35mm, cameras, go figure!

I blame Sony and Apple...

hehe!


:)

Photo Engineer
08-29-2012, 12:22 PM
In the late 90s, I watched EK invest $50M in an update project to an existing internal item during the time that film was beginning to falter. One manager was in favor of doing it, but doing it with less money and another was "directed" to do it at the higher cost regardless. I talked to both of them before I retired and the conversation was revealing.

Among other things, they were using material from a small struggling company, when a huge company supplied the same thing at the same cost. I had long discussions about this in the months before I retired. They went with the small company. About five years after I retired, the small company went out of business and EK had to convert the entire project to product from the larger company. This entailed even greater expense.

The major managers that spurred this either left the company or were promoted within EK.

Now, for those of you outside of the company, I have a question. Did you know of the above? I can cite about a dozen such projects which as an aggregate run up a tab of several hundred million. NONE are known outside of EK at this time. I have given one minor interview to Scott Sheppard (who has been quite ill lately) and Scott and I have discussed an update to this interview.

The point is that EK, like many other companies, had a lot of internal and unknown things going on. Some were good and some fell flat!

PE

Ian Grant
08-29-2012, 12:45 PM
Sorry if I came off a bit harsh above. This film division selling thing has touched a nerve with me. (Read that posting again about the cathartic thing!) Kodak is being thrown around here in 20/20 hindsight as a big, bumbling, corporate, conglomerate of dolts that had no idea what they were doing and that just isn't always the case. There were/are serious issues at 343 State Street and that is a fact. But there were many, many people outside of KO that poured their heart and soul into making things go right at EK. Most of those people are gone now, either just from EK or in many cases from this Earth, and that should be remembered as well.

Signing off, now.

The problem is that we as film photographers think of Kodak as the film coating division, where as it's the Kodak company as a whole that is in trouble and it's the senior management that let everyone down, customers, shareholders and employees.

There have been hard hitting exposes of the Kodak management's failings by various highly reputable journalists and economists, in any country other than the US the directors would be under serious investigation but instead they draw even more bonuses for driving the company into the ground. That last part just about says it all.

Ian

wblynch
08-29-2012, 01:29 PM
...I can cite about a dozen such projects which as an aggregate run up a tab of several hundred million...

...The point is that EK, like many other companies, had a lot of internal and unknown things going on. Some were good and some fell flat!

PE

Right on!

I can say from my observations as a consultant who has worked deep inside over 30 major US corporations that MOST managerial decisions are not made in the best interest of the company, but for a myriad of personal/egotistical reasons.

The worst driver is supposed "cost savings". Seldom properly measured or proven. Just put the number you need it to be on a spreadsheet or power point presentation.

Most management gets rewarded for things other than the best interest of the company.

Promotions, bonuses, assignments, prime office space... it goes to the BS'ers and self-promoters who never, ever consider the benefit of the company in their decisions.

Hatchetman
08-29-2012, 02:04 PM
Most management gets rewarded for things other than the best interest of the company.

Promotions, bonuses, assignments, prime office space... it goes to the BS'ers and self-promoters who never, ever consider the benefit of the company in their decisions.

I agree with this. Basically poor management from the top down. Incentives in publicly traded companies are geared toward short-term stock performance. Kodak had a lot going for it: a lot of cash, a great name, smart people. Yes, their core business was eroding but they had plenty of time (15-20 years?) to adapt. Instead they risked it all on digital printing, an industry already loaded with stiff competition. That has to be one of the dumbest ideas ever. It will be probably be talked about in MBA seminars for the next century!

SilverGlow
08-29-2012, 03:41 PM
I agree with this. Basically poor management from the top down. Incentives in publicly traded companies are geared toward short-term stock performance. Kodak had a lot going for it: a lot of cash, a great name, smart people. Yes, their core business was eroding but they had plenty of time (15-20 years?) to adapt. Instead they risked it all on digital printing, an industry already loaded with stiff competition. That has to be one of the dumbest ideas ever. It will be probably be talked about in MBA seminars for the next century!

Yup, 15-20 years to adapt. And riddle me this: How did they go from inventing the digital camera, and feeding Canon and Nikon high-end state of the art full frame sensors to where they're at today? Surely one does not have to be an alumni or insider to come up with reasons. Is there any other short answer then this: Upper and perhapd middle management were fat rich idiots?!? I've consulted too, with 100+ companies and the one common denominator I often see is that corporate America is no longer a Meritocracy...it's long past the days when it mattered what skills you have and your productivity rate. Not enough Steve Jobs....too many liberal-socialist types that do too many group-think decisions.

Prof_Pixel
08-29-2012, 03:52 PM
I had lunch with an old Kodak K Pro marketing type friend today and one of the points we discussed was that Kodak had too many 'order takers' and very few real marketing people.

DREW WILEY
08-29-2012, 05:39 PM
Silverglow - I deal a lot with mfg corps and I certainly don't know any that are run by what you describe as liberal-socialist think tanks. Quite the opposite. The trend nowadays is utter CEO totalitarianism. Then that guy stacks the office with MBA's who know even less than he does about
the business, just to make himself look good. Ever watch, "Rodney Dangerfield goes back to School?"
Just like that. 75 and hundred year old mfg concerns which has weathered just about every storm
imaginable don't seem to last more than 6 months to a couple years with a jerk at the helm.

Sirius Glass
08-29-2012, 05:48 PM
In 2004 Kodak sold its Civilian and Government Systems to ITT to fund the home printer market expansion. C&GS earned over 3% of the net profit with less than 0.01% of the employees. With logic like that the writing was on the wall.

DREW WILEY
08-29-2012, 05:54 PM
Yeah, and it would be ironic if Kodak sells off their consumer film division just to see someone else make a real profit at it, simply because it becomes their primary business rather than just another cog in the wheel unsuccessfully trying to flatter the stock market.

wblynch
08-29-2012, 06:17 PM
Yeah, and it would be ironic if Kodak sells off their consumer film division just to see someone else make a real profit at it, simply because it becomes their primary business rather than just another cog in the wheel unsuccessfully trying to flatter the stock market.

I have personally experienced a company shut down an entire division rather than accept a generous outside offer on the assumption that the buyer might make it successful and "embarrass" the sellers.

Photo Engineer
08-29-2012, 06:27 PM
I've found that EK middle management and VPs to be reasonable normal people. I've found the top 3 or 4 people 9with one or two exceptions) to be brusque and somewhat dictatorial people. They had an aristocratic mien.

PE