Eastman Kodak Files for Bankruptcy, Could Have Been the First Facebook

My blog post title may reflect my age, but for us Boomers, Kodak really was the first Facebook.  We trusted Kodak with our precious film, and it magically turned it into keepsakes we could share with anyone around the world, albeit at the speed of an aircraft and not light.  Karen’s family took (and still takes) thousands of photos each year.  Mine took fewer, but plenty enough.  Karen and I then did the same once our children were born, filling a score of photo albums with the years and sub-years stenciled or written on the spines.  Then our habits changed.  First we requested photos to be written onto a CD, then we trusted it to the Cloud via Shutterfly, before it was called the Cloud.  Then I took great (for me) pictures of my trips to Istanbul and Punta Del Este, Uruguay using my 5 MP camera on my Blackberry Bold in 2008, and posted them to our blog without ever getting any of the pictures printed.

Where was Kodak when all of our family photography behaviors were changing?  It’s too long and painful a story to write about here, although I discuss it in my leadership development programs.  One example of the firm’s inevitable demise should suffice.  When I was a newly minted Ph.D. back in 1992, Kodak’s Imaging Division flew me up to its headquarters in Rochester to consult with them about a downsizing effort they were contemplating.  They had read my research with my colleagues Kim Cameron and Sarah Freeman at the University of Michigan on how to do downsizing effectively, achieving both bottom-line improvements while actually enabling employees to redesign their jobs so that layoffs could be minimized or even avoided altogether.

I should have known something was wrong from the moment I arrived at the headquarters.  Instead of meeting with the division president as I had been led to believe I would be doing, I spent the entire day with two employees from the organizational development staff.  Rather than seeking my help in crafting an effective downsizing strategy, they had hired me to help them craft a communications plan for a strategy the top brass had already decided upon, one which involved a lot of layoffs.  I tried my best to get them to change their minds, but even though those two employees agreed with me, they had no influence to change the strategy.  So my first big consulting engagement was a failure.  Yes, I collected a nice check for my one day’s work, but as I flew back to State College, PA where I was an assistant professor at Penn State, I knew that Kodak was embarking on the road to failure.  The destruction of a brand trusted by tens of millions, the loss of tens of thousands of jobs lost, and billions in equity gone forever would be the result of a firm that downsized rather than innovated.

For information about the bankruptcy announcement, please go to the Dealbook article.

For a timeline of the company put together by the Wall Street Journal, go here.

For a discussion in the Wall Street Journal as to whether filing for bankruptcy will save Kodak, go here.


Growth Through Greater Trust and Control

For decades, management scholars and consultants have debated whether building trust in an organization runs counter to exercising greater control over employees.  Certainly, using formal tools such as monitoring employees’ behavior and communications makes it harder to earn their trust, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all forms of control are inherently trust-inhibiting or trust-violating.

My colleagues Gavin Schwarz and Karen and I have just published a peer-reviewed book chapter on how an organization has grown to over $200 million per year in annual revenues by building greater trust and control at the same time.  If you’d like to read it, here it is.



Downsizing’s Steady Drumbeat

We’ve been conducting research on organizational downsizing for more than two decades, but even so, it is next to impossible to keep up to date on downsizing activity in the U.S. and around the globe.  Nonetheless, we’ll post here some of the downsizing efforts taking place that we don’t comment on elsewhere in our blog.  Here are some of them:


General Mills Unveils Restructuring, Job Cuts


Capital One to lay off 850 employees in Salinas


Bank Of America Plans To Lay Off 2000 Senior Bankers: Report

Frontier Airlines files formal layoff notice for 129 Milwaukee job cuts


American Airlines announces 1200 layoffs of nonunion workersPrimeFlight To Lay Off More Than 300 At Texas AirportsHawker Beechcraft warns employees of 350 layoffs


First Solar plans to lay off 2000 workers, California-ordered cuts will shutter 56 courtrooms, lay off 350


Sony confirms 10000 layoffs as part of ‘One Sony’ initiativeHawker Beechcraft warns employees of 350 layoffs


Sony to cut an estimated 10,000 jobs.


PPG to cut 2,000 jobs, J.C .Penney to lay off 14% of its headquarters staff.


Dow Chemical plans to lay off 900Yahoo Layoffs To Start This Week,


T-Mobile to lay off 1900 employees,


Jackson Memorial to layoff over 1000 workersUnion reports layoffs at IBM.


Nokia to layoff 4000: Europe’s pain is Asia’s gain

2-9-12:  Pepsi to cut workforce by 3% or 8700 employees in 30 different countries.


Supervalu to Layoff 800, 200 in Minnesota


Verizon to lay off 336 employees in New JerseyBose laying off 200


American Airlines to lay off at least 13,000UMass Memorial to lay off at least 700 (report)San Diego Unified Prepares to Lay Off 1100+ Employees


Sub-Zero Releases Layoff Information involving 100 employeesP&G marketing layoffs new sign of the times, expert says,


P&G To Lay Off 1600 After Discovering It’s Free To Advertise On FacebookUBS reportedly to lay off 10% of staff in Germany

1-25-12:  UPS plans 400 layoffs at northern Ky. facility

1-24-12:   Texas Instruments to close 2 plants in cost-cutting move that will lay off about 1000 employees.

1-18-12:  Kraft to lay off 1600 in 2012Oakland gives layoff notices to 2500 city workersBMO Harris Bank to lay off 350.

1-12-12:  MetLife to lay off more than 800 in Irving, TXArcher Daniels To Lay Off 1000 Jobs Sanofi Canada to lay off 100 employeesCSC to lay off 114 local employees

1-5-11:  Health Plus in Virginia to lay off almost 900 employeesUMMC to lay off 115 workers, leave unfilled positions vacant.

1-4-12:  Northrop Grumman layoffs planned for Fort HoodPhilly schools send layoff notices to 1400The potential hidden costs behind temporary layoffs (Canada),

12-29-11  102 Holiday Inn hotel workers in Charlotte, NC get layoff notices.  No, make that Hawaii Medical Center layoffs number 500.

12-23-11:  Hawaii Medical Center to lay off employees on Christmas Eve

12-22-11:  Vulcan to layoff 200, consolidate regionsHarley asks for layoff volunteersAttleboro metals company announces layoffs

12-20-11:  Harley-Davidson offers voluntary layoffs in Wisconsin

Harley-Davidson Inc. is offering voluntary layoffs to hourly workers at three plants in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area to reduce staff by about 26 percent, giving itself flexibility to hire seasonal workers.

Nassau OKs over 300 layoffs
The Nassau County Legislature voted along party lines Monday to approve the layoff of more than 300 municipal employees by year’s end.

Jefferson County, Alabama eliminating hundreds of jobs

12-16-11:  Morgan Stanley to Cut 1600 JobsAT&T passes out 100 layoff notices

12-13-11:  Tampa Tribune begins layoff of 165, NPR Reports two Make It Through Five Layoffs In Five YearsPostal Service downsizing will be messy,

12-11-11:  Mosinee Factory Closure.

12-8-11:  AstraZeneca to lay off another 1,250 employees in the U.S..

12-7-11:  Citigroup To Layoff 4500 Employees, To Take $400 Mln ChargeBristol Compressors Announces Major Layoff.

12-2-11:  Ingalls Shipyard to lay off 500 non-union employees, Wisconsin Public Service to lay off 74 union employees.

11-30-11:  In Germany, Eon to eliminate 11,000 jobs and Manroland to file for bankruptcy.

11-23-11:  U.S. Navy to lay off 3,000 mid-career sailors, Ovonic Energy Products,  Motiva to lay off 500, Nokia to downsize its global workforce by 17,000 or 23%.

11-22-11:  Sikorsky to cut workforce another 3%, Booth Newspapers and MLive.com to cut workforce in half, The Wilderness Society to cut staff by 17%.

11-20-11:  City of Detroit to lay off 1,000, reduce workforce by 9%, Citizens Financial Group.

11-18-11:  UBS to downsize investment banking unit by 11 percent by 2016.

11-17-11:  Citigroup to lay off more than 3000, Pella Corp., ITT Exelis,

11-16-11:  Stryker Corp. to lay off 5% of its workforce worldwide, Capella University to lay off 4%, Nassau University Medical Center.

11-13-11:  Women’s clothier Christopher & Banks to close 100 stores and lay off 7% of its HQ staff.

11-12-11:  Dozens of layoffs at CNN, 300 laid off at Hawker Beechcraft.

11-11-11:  Simplot to lay off at least 800.

11-10-11:  Andesen Corp. to lay off 250,


Adobe lays off 750, Excite Technologies in Tennessee.

11-8-11:  Lansing, Michigan police slower to respond, make fewer arrests after layoffs.

11-3-11:  Element K, AMD to cut 10% or 1,400 jobs, Gameforge, and 3500 layoffs avoided in New York as a result of a new deal with the Public Employees Federation union.

11-1-11:  Kudelski Group to lay off nine percent (9%) of its workforce, Illinois’s Cook County, software developer Silicon Knights.

10-29-11:  Whirlpool to downsize in Europe and North America by 10% or more than 5,000 jobs, Motorola, BuyWithMe, Clearwater Paper in IdahoHewlett-Packard may kill off WebOS and lay off 500 .

10-26-11:  Mass layoffs in September affected 153,000 workers, and Procter and Gamble plans to downsize through early retirements, but not how much or why.

10-20-11:  Amgen to lay off 226.

10-18-11:  Kimberly-Clark, Babcock & Wilcox, Lowes Home Improvement to close 20 stores and lay off 2,000 employees, mass layoffs at Goldman Sachs,

10-10-11:  Ararmark lay off 128 at Disney locations.

10-9-11:  AstraZeneca to lay off 400 in Wilmington, DE.

10-8-11:  BBC to downsize by 2,000 jobs over the next five years, Navistar by 130 jobs by year’s end, and NV Energy 100 jobs by spring of 2012.

10-7-11:  Compensation Insurance Fund to lay off 30%, or 1,800.

10-5-11:  Illinois companies to lay off 650 workers, and Friendly’s Ice Cream restaurants files for bankruptcy and will lay off 1,200 employees.

10-4-11:  Hanford Nuclear Reservation to cut 1,000 jobs.

9-30-11:  Nokia to cut 3,500 jobs.

9-29-11:  Governor Andrew Cuomo sends layoff notices to first of almost 3,500 New York State employees to be laid off, and the union develops a proposal to try to avoid the layoffs.

9-28-11:  MetroHealth Systems in Cleveland, OH to eliminate 450 jobs, cut $30 million in expenses over next two months; more than 500 Lockheed will lose their jobs as a result of previously announced downsizing of 1,500.

9-27-11:  Novartis announces new, unspecified layoffs in addition to 2,500 already downsized in the past year, and Georgia Health Sciences University to lay off 150.

9-24-11:  Red Bull Nascar Racing Team,

9-23-11:  Viacom.

9-22-11:  You’ve got to be kidding me:  Hallmark Produces Layoff Greeting Cards.

Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger will lead to 2,000 jobs lost.

WIPP announces layoffs to start in October.

H-P Starts Layoffs in WebOS Unit, and has eliminated or will eliminate more than 34,000 jobs since 2005.  Is it any wonder that H-P is considering getting rid of its CEO after he’s been on the job for only a few months, as reported in today’s WSJ??

United States Postal Service (USPS) would like to eliminate 120,000 employees.

GM’s Parma Plant Received $60 million in new investment

As many of you read in our first book about Bob Lintz and the transformational change he led at GM’s Parma Stamping Plant in the ’80s and ’90s near Cleveland, Ohio, I thought you’d be interested in some recent news about Parma, in which GM will be invested $60 million dollars as part of the plant’s most recent modernization.

This is truly a lasting legacy that Bob left, as the plant continues to improve and be one of the world’s very best stamping plants years AFTER Bob retired.  For you Good To Great and Built to Last fans, Parma is a compelling example of a Level 5 Leader who built a Flywheel that continues to demonstrate significant bottom-line results for both GM and its employees who work at Parma.

Karen and I be continuing our profile of Bob and discussing what he has learned as a result of his inspiring leadership efforts in our forthcoming sequel, Becoming a Trustworthy Leader:  Psychology and Practice, due out later this by Routledge Press.

What is Your Burning Platform? Nokia has identified its own.

If I had a dollar for each time one of my students or clients used the phrase “burning platform,” I’d be writing this blog from the Caribbean.  Well, from today’s Wall Street Journal comes Nokia’s CEO and his efforts to communicate an urgent need for transformation change to his employees:

Just days before Nokia Corp. Chief Executive Stephen Elop is to reveal his plan for turning around the ailing handset maker, an internal memo penned by the executive describes a company besieged on all sides by competitors and in desperate need of a huge transformation.


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Nokia chief Stephen Elop, pictured in September.

Comparing Nokia to a man standing on a burning oil platform who jumps into icy waters to escape the flames, Mr. Elop says dramatic action is needed to reverse a decline that has left the Finnish company “years behind” the competition.

The complete text of Stephen Elop’s memo can be found here, and it’s quite compelling.  Does your company need or have a burning platform, and if so, do your colleagues understand it?