Herr & Mister

Let's start with failure.
Why do even innovative companies like Kodak fail?
Kodak and innovation. Do those words go together? Not perhaps in the way we might think.
They were followers in film and pioneers in digital imaging. Yet they dominated the former industry and succumbed in the latter. Why?
Maybe because their identity was stuck in time - in a time where they defined themselves as being the most successful film maker.
And it can be hard to change if that change threatens your beloved identity.
1992 Ex-Kodak-VP Strickland was not allowed to release the 1st digital camera due to fear of cannibalisation of film: http://t.co/J8W7Xn2d
Steve Sasson, a Kodak employee, invented the digital camera in 1975, 17 years prior.
In this article, Sasson suggests his team assumed they had 15-20 years before consumers would adopt digital imaging. http://t.co/zhy6V7Lj
Kodak patented the first digital camera, but otherwise there was no public disclosure of the invention until 2001.
The big question is why did Kodak fail to take advantage of its pioneering position?
I referred earlier to Kodak being a pioneer in digital and follower in film, the latter notion referenced here: http://t.co/obNumuyX
The article debunks the long-held myth of first-mover advantage. But in Kodak's case they invented then allowed themselves to be overtaken.
There is a similar history at Xerox. They invented graphic user interfaces and the mouse, and Apple and Microsoft reaped the benefits.
The folks over at Cracked have an, ehm, interesting take on that one. http://t.co/kn3lgJeM
For XEROX new ideas did not matter unless they were directly related to photocopy. Too much focus does not pay - got to watch the MARGINS!
Problem: most companies purposely restrict their chances at the "adjacent possible" by not sharing their IP/technology: http://t.co/G7ehFn1Y
Interesting: KODAK was also sitting on a pile of patents worth up to $2.6 billion when filing for bankruptcy: http://t.co/8VSbWvLY
We should start thinking about new business models beyond exclusive IP? We are all standing on the shoulders of giants: http://t.co/iDDPQJhf
What if a company would not define itself via some product, property or mission but by a UNIQUE WAY of doing business? http://t.co/iBkx8m8j
Another factor for company failure: functional fixedness http://t.co/V9SSu0ma Interestingly young children are immune: http://t.co/dIfJH9HQ
Value is what you get, but value is inherently social: http://t.co/q4BekEVB
Failure results when your company loses its social perspective!
Those last two insights are intriguing. One wonders if companies exhibit the same aging characteristics as people do...
"One possibility is that firms don’t change because inertia is in their DNA" http://t.co/2El4wBbq
"The need for accountability and reliability in the modern economy selects against constant radical experimentation." http://t.co/2El4wBbq
Those last two quotes come from an article entitled "Why Companies Fail" in this month's The Atlantic magazine
Inertia DNA surpressing radical experimentation is fundamental to our concept of an Innovation Identity.
Inertia surely contributes to failure as companies generally don't change voluntarily but only because they have to: http://t.co/25nx2SJl
But change does not guarantee success as Warner-Lambert shows: 3 restructurings from 1979-98 that each killed momentum: http://t.co/tHESormc
2 Important lessons to avoid failure: 1) Concentrate on WHO you are 2) Develop a simple & powerful "HEDGEHOG"-concept: http://t.co/tHESormc
WHO is your company? Can't reduce it to its organization as there is conflict between "being human and being organized" http://t.co/RFnzlxGw
Ouchi describes an ideal organization as "one that has no organizational chart, no divisions, no visible structure": http://t.co/N3EdtoJY
Ouchi's also describes an ideal organization as one in which "each person understands his task...so well that the coordination is unspoken"
To avoid failure a company has to be built WITH and not UPON its members, and it has to allow their TRANSFORMATION: http://t.co/R79C41I5
Difference between great & mediocre symphony orchestras: IDENTITY! Because music is more than playing the right notes: http://t.co/tZ1PtDN7
But maybe the concept of "FAILURE" is already a mistake: companies yet have to develop a constructive way of dealing with failure.
Henry Ford learned from the failure of his first 2 automobile companies how to use assembly line manufacturing: http://t.co/Is5zOwcE
After 244 years, Encyclopedia Britannica said today it's going fully digital. You can read about it on Wikipedia. http://t.co/65rizo58
Encyclopedia was too fixated on the idea that only printed books are trustworthy: Failure to adapt to digital identity: http://t.co/964e8q9W
Another aspect of failure: Fear! Innovation is often killed by fear http://t.co/Do5b4qmZ e.g. fear of losing your face: http://t.co/U0t84byk
Reason why you need a safe INNOVATION IDENTITY to plan your creative metamorphosis: fear otherwise kills your ambitions http://t.co/SO5ZSjQp
Venture Capital is the business of failure. They recognize the value of failure as a requirement to innovation. http://t.co/CJCHf7nR
If failure is not tolerated within the company, externalize it. That's what an Innovation Identity exists to do.
So an Innovation Identity is a failure incubator in a way. It's a safe place to fail.
Fail on the shoulders of giants. http://t.co/bcbnKekd
Persistence & determination fo FAIL as indicators of SUCCESS: WD-40 lubricant = Water Displacement - 40th Attempt: http://t.co/bzE1DI9h
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Thomas Hirschmann
Thomas Hirschmann