Give Yourself a Productivity Boost

Kodak needed the ultimate productivity boost to avoid get shuttered out of business when the photography industry went digital. It is hard to imagine a worse case scenario than the one that was faced by Kodak. This 125 year old Fortune 500 company entered the new millennium with 70% of its revenue and profits coming from its traditional businesses that were based on manufacturing and selling film cameras, photographic films and papers.

A few days ago, we interviewed Jeff Hayzlett, Kodak’s Chief Business Development Officer and Vice President along with David Lanzillo, Director of Corporate Communication and the company’s Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. During the interview, they mentioned their F.A.S.T. program as being essential to their success in making the massive changes required to transform the company into a global leader in digital communications.

The breadth and depth of the changes made by Kodak were dramatic. Jeff described the company as currently having “19 products, each being number 1, 2 or 3 in its respective industry. Half these products did not exist ten years ago.” At its peak in 1988, Kodak had 150,000 employees, compared to just 27,000 today. Jeff said that “60% of our people are new within the past four years.” The company is cranking out about as much revenue now as it was in the 1980s, using a small fraction of its past workforce. These productivity gains were almost unimaginable then.

Jeff and David claimed their four part productivity boosting F.A.S.T. program was used as “a way for us to bring a number of companies working together.” The four parts of the FAST program are as follows:

  1. Focus.Everyone in the company including those on the factory floors have become highly focused on delivering results. The people at Kodak are all tied into the larger context of what the company is working toward. They are informed of more than just their small part of the picture. Is everything that you do geared towards your goals? Is it in the larger context of what you are working toward?
  2. Accountability. This is about promises and keeping them. Jeff said “I’m accountable and I’ll deliver those, no matter what – short of doing something dangerous or illegal. We treat everybody inside the company as if they were a customer.” Ask yourself, how good am I at delivering what I promise?
  3. Simplicity. Jeff said, “We have 125 years of rules and regulations. To be a fast and nimble company, do we need a lot of those? We gave permission.” A huge chunk of their policy and procedure manuals were scrapped. The company did an end to end review and eliminated waste throughout the organization. It transformed itself from a bloated behemoth into a lean organization in much less time than any other company of its size ever has. What have you done to remove unnecessary clutter or stuff that gets in the way of real productivity?
  4. Trust. “Good open conversations. We agree to be in fair and open dialogue. This is in a spirit of cooperation and accountability. Even if we screw up, we’ll do it faster.” Kodak clearly values true communication. How open are you in conversation? Do you express yourself clearly and with candor?

We wish to thank Jeff and David for taking time to help us better understand what Kodak has done to sharpen its image. It has become an important player in the new digital world. We appreciate how Kodak has retaken a leading position through its productivity-enhancing F.A.S.T. approach and shared this so that we all can benefit from their approach.

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