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Give Yourself a Productivity Boost: Learn from Kodak’s Transformation

Give Yourself a Productivity Boost: Learn from Kodak’s Transformation
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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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  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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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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