Changing Focus: Kodak and the Battle to Save a Great American Company

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9780812924633: Changing Focus: Kodak and the Battle to Save a Great American Company

Changing Focus recounts Kodak's roller-coaster history, including a string of failed product launches, management blunders, and ill-conceived attempts to diversify. Readers see today's Kodak struggling to revitalize itself, beginning with a portrait of CEO George Fisher, who has been charged with the daunting task of remaking one of the world's largest companies. Photo insert.

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Review:

Like a Coca-Cola bottle and a McDonald's arch, Kodak's yellow packaging has become a 20-century business icon. As the company prepares for the 21st century, however, all is not going smoothly. In much the way she chronicled the changing times at Proctor & Gamble in her previous book, Soap Opera: The Inside Story of Proctor & Gamble business editor Alecia Swasy now examines the film company's struggles in Changing Focus: Kodak and the Battle to Save a Great American Company.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A journalist's unfocused take on Eastman Kodak and the ripple effects its troubles have caused over the past decade or more. Drawing on personal interviews and secondary sources, Swasy (Soap Opera, 1993) tries and fails to tell at least three stories. First, there's the cautionary tale of a firm that once ruled the wide world of photography only to be brought low by its own complacency and by aggressive rivals like Japan's Fuji. Next come mawkish accounts of how the commercial woes of a traditionally paternal organization affected host communities (notably, Rochester, NY) and laid-off workers, who had taken their highly paid jobs for granted. Included as well are discontinuous and inconclusive reports on the wrenching campaign mounted by George Fisher (an outsider recruited at vast expense from Motorola) to put the company back on an upward track. Unfortunately, the author (business editor at Florida's St. Petersburg Times) does not capitalize on the drama inherent in any of these narrative lines. Nor does she integrate them into any kind of coherent whole that could inform corporate executives, makers of public policy, municipal officials, those threatened by downsizing, or merely interested parties. Veering on and off course, Swasy intersperses raw reportage on the plights of the unemployed with such things as briefings on a spinoff (Eastman Chemical) that may or may not be an object lesson for its erstwhile parent; as a practical matter, her potpourri approach strongly suggests that she has no idea whether Kodak can thrive in a competitive new environment where digital technology promises to have a decidedly negative impact on film suppliers. A blurred picture of an enterprise whose triumphs and travails are not to be captured in the editorial equivalent of tintypes. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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