Joline Godfrey and the Polaroid Corporation (a)

8877 Words Sep 26th, 2011 36 Pages
Harvard Business School 9-492-037
Rev. April 4, 2000

Joline Godfrey and the Polaroid Corporation (A)

Joline Godfrey slowly surveyed the room where she and her partner, Jane Lytle, were bargaining for the future of their venture, Odysseum. For the past three years, Polaroid had provided Godfrey with the resources to nurture her idea of using photography as the basis for creative corporate training programs. Now, after agreeing to spin the project off into an independent company, Godfrey was unpleasantly surprised at the proposal Polaroid had made. In return for 14% equity, Polaroid expected to invest only an additional $120,000 in the company. Godfrey did not believe that this offer was consistent with the support she was
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But he brought us into contact with company officers and helped us gain a more intimate understanding of the company culture.

Impressed with Godfrey’s work in the affirmative action department, Rebelsky suggested that she move into a line personnel position in the camera division. He pushed her, explaining that it was the only way she could have a significant impact on the company. Godfrey resisted; she did not want to be part of the typical “corporate lifestyle.” Ultimately, Godfrey succumbed to Rebelsky’s persistence by accepting a line human resource position in the camera division.

Bill Rebelsky’s sudden death shortly thereafter was a tremendous loss for Godfrey:

He was my role model for not having a job title. He didn’t have to have a job. He was very important in terms of my understanding of how to use the cracks in the company to achieve the things you felt needed to be done. Bill was a master at that. I remember asking him about career ladders. And he said, “Career ladder! Whatever gave you the thought that anything in life is as neat as a ladder?”

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, Polaroid faced changing times. Dr. Edwin Land, who founded Polaroid in 1947, retired. His influence had extended from the technical development of products to the recruitment of new employees. One executive noted:

Dr. Land created, all of us together created, an exciting, can-do environment in

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