Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/10/10

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Subject: [Leica] How to manage a camera company?
From: Erwin Puts <>
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 12:38:21 +0200

Someone noted in part:
>I truly believe that it is time for Herr Cohn to quit
>sitting on his hands (that is the nice way of putting
>it) and get an M7 to market before the Konica people
>do.  Herr Cohn has no choice.  If he lets the Japanese
>get a foothold in the Range Finder market, they will
>eat him alive.
And someone else noted, as a minuscule part of his postings:
>All Leica needs to do is make money on its current products.  If it does that,
>it survives forever.
Most of the time I were under the impression that the Leica list 
consisted of owners of Leica equipment, whose primary focus and 
expertise is the use of this photographic equipment for purposes of 
self-expression or reality-recording on film.
Increasingly I have to assume this list is populated by management 
consultants, who as all consultants always do, will propose 
conflicting strategies and produce dense advisory reports of infinite 
wisdom, of naturally easy to implement for the poor management that 
cannot  not see the truly obvious.
Now a one-liner like: "All Leica needs to do is make money on its 
current products" is so obvious and true that I wonder why Mr Cohn 
never thought of that himself. Even the assembly of shareholders last 
week failed to see this brilliant strategy. The "Betriebsrat" (worker 
representative board) issued a long statement last week, how they see 
things working and developing. Again no one saw the obvious. How 
stupid of them.
Now for the other post. Is Mr Cohn sitting on his hands? Does he have 
no choice but to follow the advice, so astounding in its simplicity, 
to get an M7 on the market in three months time. And if he does not, 
then our guru predicts the loss of the rangefinder market to the 
So let us combine both of these proposals. Bring out an M7 before the 
end of the year, make some money on it and you prosper forever. The 
Japanese are beaten and they lived happily and had many children. 
(Sorry  wrong line: this is the happy end of a fairy tale!)
Then he goes on to note: "the lack of progress being made on sales, 
marketing and product development fronts". I assume Mr Erfurth has 
insider knowledge here. Again the shareholders did not comment on 
these issues. So the management board conceals vital info from the 
shareholders. Happily we have an outsider analist who knows it all.
The advice is again simple:
>The time has come for Leica's board of directors to hire someone who 
>make things happen.
Well in three years time there is probably a vacancy, but then Leica 
is eaten, unless the advice is taken seriously. "Leica has the 
know-how and the technology to produce the product, the only thing 
they appear to be lacking is leadership". Again insider knowledge 
must be presumed here. But as the only thing needed is to produce an 
M7, why do we need leadership for? And now for the ominous future: 
"the Leica name <will be> bought by some large Japanese company who 
would prostitute the products, but that is exactly what is going to 
happen if Leica's board of directors does not that immediate and 
decisive action". Now this analist even knows what the malicious 
intentions are of that Japanese company. But we get more insightful 
>The wrtiting is on the wall.  Leica must start immediately to make 
>more productive and efficient use
>of their available resources, significantly increase their promotion 
>and sales, and get meaningful new
>products to the market place.
Leave out the name of Leica is this sentence and it applies to every 
company in the world and if a management consultant would produce a 
report with this type of absolutely meaningless stories, he might be 
sued for incompetence.
I would propose that anyone who thinks he can run the company better 
than Mr Cohn or has insider knowledge vital to the survival of the 
company contact Mr Friderichs, the chairman of the board. The Lug is 
the wrong address.