The two most significant entities I’ve worked for in my life were the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1968 and Kodak for 40 years before I retired on my own terms in 2009. In both cases I’ve worked with many talented and dedicated people who worked very hard to succeed and deliver results.
Unfortunately, there were serious leadership problems at the top of both organizations.  Outstanding leaders are part visionary and part coach. Someone people know they can count on to point their organization in the right direction
Robert S. McNamara, as Secretary of Defense, thought he could run the military utilizing statistics like he did at Ford Motor Co. where he was dubbed one of the “whiz Kids.” He emphasized body counts that cost American lives to gather. He was aloof and arrogant. He and President Johnson let their egos control their actions, which prolonged the war. Military people began doubting their leadership as they prosecuted the war in great detail from the White House and Pentagon with little success. As Robert McNamara aged and became ill, he granted an interview where he cried and apologized for his actions as Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War.
Antonio Perez has led Kodak into steady decline over the past 10 years. Granted, he inherited an unhealthy company from George Fisher and Dan Carp. But, he promised employees, shareholders and Wall Street year after year that things would be better in one or two years but it never happened, just more excuses and promises. Fewer and fewer employees I talked to believed they could count on “words from the top.” In my last years there, it was always the attempt to profit by cutting costs. Personal printers were launched in an attempt to capture market share when the market was saturated with hundreds of models from well-established competitors. Was this a vision from a guy from HP? Thousands of workers lost jobs, shareholders saw their stock values decline to pennies, retirees lost promised benefits and creditors could not be paid. Yet year after year top executives received bonuses. Where was Kodak’s Board of Directors when this was happening year after year?
We have read recently that Antonio Perez could be at Kodak for up to three more years as CEO, advisor and on the board with compensation of up to $6 million. I’ve heard that it takes approximately $10 in sales for every dollar spent, so in reality he could cost the company up to $60 million in sales. What a waste of precious money.
I doubt Antonio will cry after he leaves Kodak, but many have cried due to actions he’s taken over the last 10 years.
Frank Mucha lives in Greece.