It’s The Culture That Kills

Why didn’t the company whose founding father practically invented photography invent Instagram?

Why didn’t anyone at the venerable toy and board game maker whose name we all know think about creating FarmVille?

Why didn’t the world’s largest radio company make Pandora?

Why did Kodak not see Instagram on the horizon?

Why did Hasbro miss the boat on casual gaming?

Why did Clear Channel fail to embrace the Internet?

The press I grabbed today tells the stories.

Associated Press

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The U.S. trustee has objected to Kodak’s plan to pay $13.5 million in bonuses to persuade certain employees to stay with the company as it reorganizes under bankruptcy protection.

BusinessWeek 

Hasbro Inc. posted a first-quarter loss on Monday mostly on hefty severance costs as revenue declined. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

No company ever excelled by operating from the top down. 

Clear Channel is the City of Hopelessness because their best assets, their people, are constrained daily from doing what they know would make the company more profitable.

Companies flop, flounder and fail when they fail to lend an ear to the dreams of the people in their employ.

So you want me to believe that no one at Kodak  had this conversation?

“Okay. we are famous for photos. What can we do to make photo sharing frictionless, and allow users to use filters to make it look artistic, or even old-school?”

No one?


The company’s own home page features an old-school camera. My god, Kodak. Right under your nose….

Instagram, zynga (maker of FarmVille), and Pandora could have been created and made ubiquitous by the giants in the industry that saw reinvention as their ticket to continued relevance.

YouTube should have come from a television company. It’s such an obvious next step. Instead, it came from a couple of ex-PayPal’ers who opened a small shop above a pizza joint in San Mateo.

I used to run two small AM talk radio stations for Clear Channel. One of them, then known as Green960, was the first company station in California that allowed users to upload videos to our site. Hardly a novel idea, because YouTube was 3 years old at the time, but none of the big FMs had even thought of it, or at least not yet made it happen.

One old-school programmer of a Los Angeles AM talk station pooh-poohed my idea, saying, “We are in the radio business. That’s not what we do.”

Really.

Being small was our advantage. My little AM station, this tiny cog in the monstrous corporate wheel was able to try an idea. We asked listeners and users to give us media and information, not just ask them to swallow whatever we shoved in their ears. I’m not sure anyone in the corner offices even knew we did it, to be honest.

The people now decide.

Consumers don’t wait for content. They demand it be made for them, and they insist on sharing in and molding it to their specific personal tastes.

Kodak is limping along, making a fuss about an iPhone app that lets you pick up your printed photos at the CVS drugstore.  You get to stand in line behind a check-writing little old lady and wait for your pictures. Sounds like a blast.

Instagram was just sold to Facebook for a billion dollars.

Your reinvention might actually be paved by your unwillingness to be an entrepreneur. Maybe you want to create  new content or a distribution platform from within the walls of your current enterprise.

Maybe someone will listen to your dream.

Maybe.

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