Poor Leadership Leads to Disaster

“Within the company, there was widespread agreement that customers would always want hard copies of pictures, and key decision makers failed to question this assumption.”

“They favored the comfort of consensus over the discomfort of dissent, which was precisely the opposite of what they should have done.”

“Those who disagreed were quickly marginalized.”

“Instead, leaders fiddled while the company burned.”

Adam Grant, Originals, 2016

MTE1ODA0OTcxNjkyODE5OTgxNo, these quotes do not refer to Creative Memories or even to Kodak. Instead, they refer to Polaroid, a company ruled by Edwin Land, the strong-willed founder who could not see the world outside of his own narrow perspective. Because instant film had succeeded, he felt it always would. Instead instant film drove Polaroid to its demise, as the company ignored the coming wave of digital photography. After all, why earn 38% profit margin on digital product when you can earn 70% on film.

For more about Polaroid, see Chapter 7 on Rethinking Groupthink in Originals by Adam Grant, as well as Sell Stuff and Polaroid, Kodak, and a Complete Disregard of the Patent System.

About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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