How to reimagine your future
How to adapt to change
In 1975, a young Kodak engineer named Steven Sasson developed the first digital camera.
The Kodak management’s reaction?
That’s cute. Don’t tell anyone about it.
Kodak’s entire business model had been based on film photography. Sasson’s invention would wipe out the film, which in turn would wipe out Kodak’s existing business.
Instead of commercializing the digital camera, Kodak decided to suppress it. The company “developed antibodies against anything that might compete with film,” explained Bill Lloyd, who later became Kodak’s CTO.
Kodak eventually found itself being disrupted by the same technology it had first developed in-house—and then shelved. Although the company later entered the digital market, it was too little, too late—tantamount to rearranging deck chairs on a sinking Titanic.
In 2012, after producing cameras for more than 110 years, the company abandoned its camera business and declared bankruptcy. In the minds of corporate leaders everywhere, the “Kodak moment” went from a moment to be savored to a moment to be feared.
Across the Pacific, a very different story unfolded.
With the rise of digital cameras, Kodak’s primary film rival Fuji faced a similar problem. Its core photographic film market was shrinking dramatically. By 2003, two-thirds of Fujifilm’s core business was wiped out.
But unlike Kodak, Fujifilm’s management was willing to let go of its historical baggage and overcome the stubborn “This is who we are and what we do” mentality.
To reimagine the future, Fujifilm leaders asked, “What are our first principles—the core capabilities of our company that can be repurposed in new ways? What other industries could benefit from what we offer?”
The answer? Cosmetics.
Yes, you read that right.
In 2007, Fujifilm launched Astalift, which sells high-end skin products for—fittingly—“photogenic beauty.”
It might seem like there’s nothing in common between photography and skincare. But appearances deceive.
It turns out that the same antioxidants that protect the photographic film from harmful UV rays can do the same for human skin. It also turns out that collagen—which makes up about half the materials in the film—is also the most abundant protein in skin and a common ingredient in beauty products.
So the company applied its historical experience with collagen and antioxidants to manufacture a formula for skincare (The name Astalift is based on the antioxidant Astaxanthin). Departments at Fuji that had worked on film photography for decades were repurposed to develop cosmetic products.
In 2012, when its film competitor Kodak declared bankruptcy, Fujifilm’s diversified annual revenues exceeded $20 billion.
This is the power of first-principles thinking—of distilling a system into its core ingredients and building it back up in a different way.
The same approach will be seen in the healthcare system.
The focus of the past 10 years has been on preventing readmissions, and now in the next 10 years, the focus will be on preventing admissions. Health care consumers typically interact with the health system only when they are sick or injured. But the future of health will be focused on well-being and prevention rather than treatment.
The future of health that we envision is only about 10 years off, but health in 2030 will be a world apart from what we have now. Based on emerging technology, we can be reasonably certain that digital transformation—enabled by radically interoperable data, artificial intelligence (AI), and open, secure platforms—will drive much of this change. Unlike today, we believe care will be organized around the consumer, rather than around the institutions that drive our existing health care system.
For the first time, consumers will be able to carry out ultrasound scans at home without a doctor or technician on the side.
Have a great week and may the change with you