Keep innovating to create solutions to existing problems

Kodak – the iconic photographic film company founded in 1888 by George Eastman, had its roots in innovation where he invented photographic film and perfected a camera that the world could use.

Ironically, as early as the the mid ‘70s, a young Kodak engineer – Steve Sasson – actually invented the digital camera, and called it a “filmless” photography experience.

After learning about Sasson’s invention, the management at Kodak thought it would be better to keep it away from the market, as Kodak was raking in 70-80 percent margins on film sales. This margin was huge as compared to the typical 3-4 percent margins typical for consumer electronics.

Needless to say, Kodak lost its “Kodak Moment” amidst decades of mis-management. Combined with the meteoric rise of digital photography, Kodak filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 19, 2012.

Could the story of Kodak have been different if it had continued to innovate and renew itself?

Companies like Alibaba, Apple, Amazon, Google, Grab, airbnb, Deliveroo, Lazada and Shopee have been taking an innovative approach in building businesses.

These are the same companies that had disrupted incumbents by creating solutions to existing problems using technological means. In the process, these companies would also create new opportunities, wealth, jobs and progress.

If you are a business owner and don’t wish to be surprised by someone disrupting your business – or worst, realising your skill sets are no longer required – then you should be thinking about innovation for the sake of progress.

Through sound principals of value creation and removal of waste practices, New York Times bestseller Eric Ries, depicted his rise and fall in business in his book – The Lean Startup.

In 2011, by applying The Lean Startup principals as outlined in his book, he achieved US$40 million in annual revenue through 40 million users on his 3D social networking site IMVU.

If there is one book to read about innovation, it would be The Lean Startup. While you’re at it, do consider catching webcasts and videos relating to the Lean Startup principals available here.

Finally, I’ll recommend joining in the conversation with the various startup or innovation communities locally. Continue to find creative ways to apply your learnings in every way.

Start innovating…!

1. Book: The Lean Startup, Author: Eric Ries
2. Webcast, Conference, Videos:
3. Book: The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank
4. Related Topic: Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing
5. Community:

About Ben Lim
With nearly 20 years of experience leading tech teams in innovation and  technological development, I am now repositioned as a digital transformation leader charged with helping SPH Digital adopt the Agile culture. In this world where innovation is a “must-do”, I help teams within Singapore Press Holdings get used to breaking traditional boundaries and delivering world-class customer-centric products.