When International Business Means Unintentional Humor

Communication is tough for any company–but especially for one that works across multiple languages and cultures. The Impossible Project revisits the (amusing) moment it knew it would have to pay extra attention.

The Impossible Project was born from the ashes of a 20th-century failure, when Polaroid decided to end instant film production. Overnight, devotees were left without any source for the classic staple of American photography. It was difficult to determine which reality was more impossible to imagine: a world where instant film simply didn’t exist, or one where a small group of passionate fans figured out how to get the machines back online.


Five years later, the Impossible Project is still making instant film and soon they will be the only game in town as the supplier of classic Polaroid stock depletes. The small team tracked down and purchased the last instant film production factory in the Netherlands, turning the Impossible Project into a multinational corporation before the first unit even left the assembly line.

Dave Bias

The nascent company was unexpectedly thrust into an untested business model with a side order of language barriers. “It’s those tiny differences that you never really think about in the context of a company when you have business to do,” says Dave Bias, vice president of the Impossible Project, whose cofounder is Austrian. “These little language differences really shine a light on communication.”

Bottom Line: Communication across cultures is the key to good business.


How the Impossible Project Gave Polaroid Cameras a New Lease on Life
Polaroid Instant Film is Back on Sale

[Produced by Shalini Sharma // Camera & Edit by Tony Ditata]


About the author

Colin Weatherby is a writer, videographer, and current Leadership intern at Fast Company. If he's not strapped to a computer, he's usually on top of a mountain.


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