From Advertising Age, the entertaining story of how Kodak CMO Jeffrey Hayzlett bucked the corporate culture.
Which reminds me of a story...one of many I could tell about corporate culture at the "old" Kodak. I was in Rochester once visiting my brother and had an appointment with some curators at the George Eastman House, so I was dressed, unusually for me, in a suit. I happened to be walking past Kodak Tower when the doors opened and a crowd of executives dressed in suits spilled out onto the street. Two of them deliberately fell right in step with me. One of them said "How's it going" or "How you doing" or something like that, and I probably nodded and smiled. I wondered whether I should speed up or fall behind and give them their privacy, but they had paced themselves to me, and I thought, well, I have a right to be on the sidewalk, so I'm just going to keep walking the way I had been. As we walked, the two of them were talking animatedly about office scuttlebutt—who said what in the meeting they'd just been in, what they thought of this and that and the other thing—not gossip, just business-oriented subjects. Neither one of them said anything to me and I didn't say a word, as I would have had to interrupt. We walked like that for maybe two blocks, with the two of them chatting away with great energy.
Finally there was a pause, and one of them looked over at me. "So what department do you work in?" he asked.
"Me? Oh, I don't work for Kodak. I'm just on my way to the museum."
And that was it. I attempted a pleasantry or two, but we walked together side by side like that for three more blocks and neither one of them uttered another word—not one.
Featured Comment by Charlie H: "Cute story. Even before the clip ended, had me thinking, well, what was the winning entry, what did they name it? Turns out it's still the Zi8. Hunh."
Mike replies: Charlie, that part of it is indeed a little weird! Maybe the Guy in Charge of Contests called the Guy in Charge of Product Names and the entrenched corporate culture won in the end after all.
Featured Comment by Dan Westergren: "The new product is called Kodak PlaySport—same specs as the Zi8 plus waterproofing."
Featured Comment by David Dyer-Bennet: "I can't think of any company that saw the competitor coming that was going to destroy their core business, and went into that field themselves and destroyed their core business themselves and out-competed the newcomers. That's why Digital Equipment Corporation doesn't own the PC market; they'd been making single-user computers for years, but they couldn't bring themselves to undercut their own prices and give up control of the processor technology. To push that digital technology into the market, Kodak would have been cutting into their bread-and-butter lines, and companies essentially never do that."