The Kodak story is fascinating and tragic at the same time. The name Kodak was once synonymous with cameras and photography but today it seems poised at the threshold of being irrelevant. We like to blame the shortsightedness of key executives for not embracing digital fully and encourage other camera manufacturers not to repeat the Kodak mistake.
However, Robert Plant in a Harvard Business Review paper, puts forward a different perspective on why executives at Kodak were unable to deliver on their first-mover advantage in digital technologies. He singles out Kodak IT’s CIO, Katherine Hudson, as the person who probably blindsided the company by outsourcing IT, considered a noncore value. The resulting layoffs of key personnel, loss of organizational memory, and loss of IT connectivity with the firm meant that the technology staff effectively lost its voice about emergent digital technologies and processes.
Is your company not being as competitive as you think it should be? Perhaps, argues Plant, you should “listen to the voices in the IT organization, value what they do, and think twice about what is core and noncore.” It’s a short and interesting read.