Lessons from Kodak, Beepers and Continuous Change

Using the Easy Call paging service wasn't as easy as you would think. Telling an operator to say sorry for you is humiliating. (Dyahe!) Not only that it is hard to dictate an apology to someone you don’t know, the agent seems to always take on a sleepy (bedroom) voice every time you call.

Easy call Pager Number 141-14344. Your name please? (male bedroom voice)

You: Jhun.

Operator: Is that Juliet, Uniform, November? (confirming)

You: No, Ju-hun, with an 'H'.

Operator: Message please.

You: Ummmm... I'm sorry na...

Operator: [typing sound] Is there anything else?

You: Ummm...Yes. Umm... I won't do it again? (hesitant, but you continue anyway) Ikaw kasi eh, kung di mo lang ginawa yun...

After dictating your insincere apology, you still end up with the four words you should've said, “Please call me now” or "Turn on your cellphone, I will call you." (During that era, to conserve the 2-hour battery life of cell phones, people only turn it on when someone beeped them.)

In the mid-90s, Globe introduced a better way to communicate – via text messages. (Post star-tac era) The idea that you can send messages without calling an operator was a big relief.

Today, try to design a beeper with state-of-the-art features, sell it at the cheapest price possible, then add extra functionality, still, no one will buy it.

It's simply obsolete.

Somehow, there's a tendency for us to think that if we offer something that's cheaper, bigger, better or with more features of the same-old-boring-product, we will succeed. (Big–Sameness)

Take Kodak for example. They filed their bankruptcy just today. (1/20/12) Even though they were an early pioneer of digital photography, (they had the patents and expertise) they chose to hold on (too long) to their film business. (old success) Obviously, that didn't do them well.  

To succeed in business today requires : 
1. The willingness to let go of what worked yesterday.
2. The ability to make quick decisions.
3. The courage to embrace change. 

Get rid of the old ideas that you've heard from your non-practicing professors. 

The world has changed. 

Keep your core values and principles, but when it comes to doing things, consider new ways. Adapt to new technologies. Better yet, create it. 

Don't wait for your competitor to come up with a category-killer. Instead, make your own product obsolete by building the next big thing.