Joline Godfrey and the Polaroid Corporation (a)

Topics: Organization, Polaroid Corporation, Innovation Pages: 5 (1366 words) Published: January 28, 2011
Joline Godfrey and the Polaroid Corporation (A)

Executive Summary
The critical problems Polaroid faced in the “Joline Godfrey and the Polaroid Corporation (A)” case are the lack of structures to support innovations and the absence of mechanisms to develop talents. Polaroid’s business revolved around a single product category, which had been under the threat of emerging technologies. The company had retrenched to a narrow focus on profit through cost-cutting and short-term sales promotions instead of business innovations for strategic repositioning. The company’s engineering orientation and respect for “rising-through-the-ranks” made it difficult for innovative endeavors and talents from a different background (particularly females) to bring about strategic changes. The organizational deficiencies at Polaroid manifested themselves through a series of unorthodox choices and manoeuvres of Joline Godfrey and her mentor Jerry Sudbey, which tried to circumvent internal limitations to obtain financial and human resources for the exploration of a strategic alternative. With limited trust and regards for formal processes, Joline turned her Odysseum project into a “private experiment” and failed to compromise tactically with key corporate stakeholders to garner support and legitimacy. The project gradually lost its direction and internal support and the failed initiative cumulated in Joline’s derailment as an agent of change and a young talent with promising creativity. To prevent failures like Joline and her Odysseum project from repeating themselves, we recommend from Polaroid’s organizational perspective to: 1)Introduce a project management office to provide guidelines, assess viability, prioritize resources and establish milestones and deliverables to materialize innovative ideas; 2)Introduce a mentorship program to provide high potential staff with structured training, line exposure, project exposure and strategic guidance for them to flourish. The Problems and How They Arose

The critical problems Polaroid faced in the “Joline Godfrey and the Polaroid Corporation (A)” case are the lack of structures to support innovations and the absence of mechanisms to develop talents. Polaroid’s business revolved around a single product category, which had been under the threat of emerging technologies. After the retirement of its founder, the company had retrenched to a narrow focus on profit through cost-cutting and short-term sales promotions instead of business innovations for strategic repositioning. The company’s engineering orientation and respect for “rising-through-the-ranks” had built a collection of like-minds which reinforced this lack of openness, making it difficult for innovative endeavors and talents from a different background (particularly females) to bring about strategic changes. The Negative Consequences

The organizational deficiencies at Polaroid manifested themselves through an unorthodox mentor-apprentice relationship between Jerry Sudbey and Joline Godfrey. In an attempt to explore a strategic alternative to cope with external changes, they took a series of choices and manoeuvres that circumvented Polaroid’s internal limitations. Joline’s Odysseum project took on a “private experiment” flavour and gradually lost its direction and support from Polaroid’s corporate structure. To Polaroid, the failure of the Odysseum initiative not only cumulated in the derailment of Joline as a young talent with promising creativity, but also spelled an opportunity missed perhaps for a critical corporate change. What Went Wrong?

While Polaroid’s senior management claimed to embrace innovation, they did not “walk the talk”. As much as Jerry saw the need for Polaroid to evolve with its environment through Joline’s Odysseum project, the initiative lived on a patchwork budget. Financial support needed to be solicited from different functions, most of which through personal...
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