Risku: 13 Executives The New Nokia CEO Should Sack Today [Updated]

So OPK has been replaced by Mr Microsoft Office, Stephen Elop. The jury’s out, of course, on Mr Elop but every success to him.

And then on Monday, Anssi Vanjoki, the chap most of the marketplace was looking for a Mobile Device renaissance promptly resigned. One imagines he was not too impressed with the new CEO. Or vice versa. Either way, there’s clearly no love lost between Anssi and Nokia’s new High Command given the sparse press release that didn’t even include one “thank you for your help, good luck,” note from the Board. Or OPK. Anyone.

If you haven’t read the Anssi release, do take a quick glance and see for yourself. Who knows, maybe there will be a Gold Watch ceremony in 6 months time?

Now that the CEO’s on his way out (with, by the way, a lot of thank-yous and very-well-dones from the Board) and Anssi is joining him, is there a need for the new CEO to do some spring cleaning of the rest of the senior ranks?

Most definitely, reckons Mr Risku.

Who is Mr Risku? Let me give you some background. It’s necessary before you scan down to the names and rather direct explanations.

Back on the 22nd of June 2010, Andrew Orlowski of The Register published a rather extensive interview with Juhani Risku, a former Senior Nokia executive. Juhani had published a book (unfortunately in Finnish) detailing his suggestions for ‘Rescuing Nokia.’

The interview was most definitely illuminating and I highlighted it on Mobile Industry Review the same day Andrew published. Indeed it’s still getting a lot of interest as one of the posts at the top of every page.

Here’s Andrew’s overview of Juhani:

Juhani Risku is 53 and was independently successful before he joined Nokia – trained as an architect and industrial designer, his company had offices in France and Paris as well as Finland. He spent nine years at Nokia from 2001 and his various roles at the company included design, usability (he was head of Symbian user experience design) and Forum Nokia. He was also head of Nokia Showroom – the last place before the operators make their decisions on buying the company’s network systems.

Now, the rather direct stuff.

Here is the note I received from Juhani. I have published it in full minus his personal contact details. It most definitely makes some rather direct claims so I would be delighted to publish a rebuttal from those mentioned if they so wish it (I’m ewan@mobileindustyreview.com)

On to Juhani’s note:

– – – – –


I noticed your article “A radical plan to rescue Nokia” after Andrew Orlowski’s article in The Register. Thank you for reading my opinions!

And of course today´s news about Anssi Vanjoki are very suprising.

Here I gathered some thoughts about what should be done immediately at Nokia after Mr. Elop nomination and Mr. Vanjoki´s resignation.

So many things have happened:

– Stephen Elop as CEO
– Anssi Vanjoki leaves Nokia
– Nokia personnel is waiting for starting shot…

Now when Anssi Vanjoki gave an example of courage to leave the company there should be a vast resignation program (“GRO”, Get-Rid-Of program in my book).

Here’s one short list for GRO:

– A very senior design chap
– A very senior multimedia executive
– A senior technology leader
– A very senior chap involved with Symbian
– A senior person who’s got nowhere with Ovi
– Another senior disaster without any ideas and progress
– A VP without any knowledge, competence and enthusiasm
– A senior media VP
– A senior music VP
– Another senior VP brand executive
– Yet another senior VP
– A lot of the Forum Nokia team

[Update — I’ve removed the names and descriptions — see below]

Nokia is executing my book’s proposals very precisely according to leadership and organization change.

The big things should follow:

– New CCO Chief Creative Officer beside Stephen Elop in September
– DLT Design Leadership Team for CCO (25-35 persons)
– More clock speed and new ideas for innovation, concepting, prototyping and design
– Stock value to 30 Euros, not to 10 Euros only
– Shareholder care, in the history and today nobody cares about the owners
– Nokia strategy renewal from vision, target, leadership, implementation and personnel´s perspective (Risku)(Nokia strategy has been a wish list only from the top management, it has been split in pieces around the organizations, then after 3-4 months round everybody implements an outdated bullet point list called “strategy” – Product portfolio renewal 1 (Risku), not only one high end phone but several carefully categorized models with end-to-end services, content and solutions
– Product portfolio renewal 2 (Risku), to create systemic wholeness à la Apple (only one platform, MIST UI, drama, contextual design, ground breaking seamless connectivity)
– Work harder –> all DLT and top management to work during every second weekend, working days from 8 AM to 8 PM
– Leadership in technological and user centered solutions (Risku) (data, information, processing, cloud, SOM Self Organizing Maps, Virtual/Augmented Reality, visualization)
– Create rocket science for mobility, services, content, UCC/UGC User Created/Generated Content, Segway as an example of abstraction (Risku)
– Start personnel renewal and upgrade –> Creative Organisation program (Risku), flat organization –> GRO for 400 SVPs and VPs and directors; training or GRO for 5,000 incompetent persons worldwide.

So, Nokia is in the dawn of the mobile drama age. Mr. Elop needs all support he can get.

Best regards,
Juhani Risku

– – – – –

You’ll have seen the phrase ‘Peter’s Principle’ mentioned a few times above. Orlowski raised that with Risku and explains thus:

One phrase repeatedly came up in our conversation: The Peter Principle. This is the rule by which people are promoted to their own level of incompetence. Many, but not all of Nokia’s executives have attained this goal, claims Risku.

Now then, Juhani’s suggestions are rather direct. As I said above, I will happily publish a rebuttal of those mentioned or from Nokia directly. You can contact Juhani via his site: http://uusinokia.livejournal.com/

What do you think of Juhani’s suggestions? Would you exit the above named individuals? Do you think wholesale change is needed? And do you reckon Mr Elop, the new CEO, is thinking the same thing?

(Credit to <a href=http://www.benjam.in>Ben Smith</a> for the ‘Mr Microsoft Office’ name for Mr Elop)

Update: Mike Butcher at TechCrunch picks up the story: Former Nokia exec nows calls for an axe to fall across management

Update 2: I’ve removed the names and descriptions above because, although I am seriously unimpressed with Nokia’s performance over the past few years, I can’t be entirely sure that they’re specifically responsible. And ultimately, from a personal reputation viewpoint, I should be sure. The underlying message of this post still stands: Nokia needs a massive, massive clear-out.

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25 Responses to Risku: 13 Executives The New Nokia CEO Should Sack Today [Updated]

  1. Martin September 14, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

    It is certainly a radical suggestion but almost certainly one that is needed – go deep and then rebuild.

    This is a principle that many media companies should have followed some years ago- look at what has happened that sector.

  2. PatrickatJPR September 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    Maybe we should get some of the UI designers to work on a new executive
    bathroom instead .. or maybe not!

  3. Tim September 14, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    Juhani Risku … “was head of Symbian user experience design”. Well, I’m afraid this fact alone does not fill me full of confidence in the man’s opinion.

  4. Mike42 September 14, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    Noting here that none of the GRO’s are in manufacturing, logistics, operations. The guys that build and ship the phones are the ones I feel for in the whole Nokia debacle. The day the N97’s and X6’s came off the line they must have been throwing themselves under their forklifts.

    Arguably the (mostly) creatives named above can be cut out and replaced PDQ. Buidling an entire fabrication & distribution infrastructure, not so. Nokia’s still got game, if the CEO has the balls to get them back in it.

  5. Ribbon9 September 14, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    I for one Mos Sincerely Hope this list, and a translation of Risku’s “Manuscript for New Nokia” will land on Stephen Elop’s desk by next Tuesday, unless they already have ?!

    Could someone please make sure, for all Nokia lovers’ sake ?!!

  6. Angus Fox September 14, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    I think they are in a serious mess. There isnt anything interesting in the handsets and theres too much tech and not enough usability. They have lost the handset initiative because Symbian must be protected ’emperor with no clothes style’. New OS initiatives aren’t fully embraced because of this. I wish @selop luck but it can’t be fixed from Silicon Valley – it must be fixed in Tampere’s hermia buildings and in Salo and Helsinki. (In a previous life built a mobile testing product for Symbian and worked with them at all levels)

  7. Ben Smith September 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    Wow…. wow wow wow.

    I'm sure there'll be plenty of discussion about the individual points and even Risku's qualifications for saying this, but the core point is interesting. Supporters argue that Nokia is huge, citing market share and handsets shipped, but what significant improvements have been made over the last 5 or so years?

    If you start big and end up the same (or less) what have you done for your shareholders? What is the opportunity cost of the money invested in the failed services, armies of marketing people and various ingenious acquisitions? …I saw Dom Travers say he thought he could run a fairly competent UI lab just on the money spent on today's Nokia World keynotes. I don't know if that's right, but it's an amusing thought.

    Let the howling commence….

  8. James Pearce September 14, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    It might be interesting if the same individual was list the insiders who should (rather than shouldn't) inhabit these positions.

    i.e. it's easy to find faults and flaws in those with responsibility in a failing company. But much harder to figure out what to do about it – or rather, who are the superstars to put in place instead.

    (clue: this is more important than forcing everyone to work alternate weekends)

  9. Ewan September 14, 2010 at 7:34 pm #

    If he's reading, I think he may well oblige you James

  10. Ricky Cadden September 14, 2010 at 7:36 pm #

    I was thinking the same thing. Who should get promoted/a pat on the back?

    I also found it interesting that few of these names are well-known – I wonder if the public faces are the ones working the hardest (would agree with my experience).

  11. Mark W Webster September 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Kinda exemplifies what most of us have been aware of, that the last few years stagnation and incompetence have been rife at Nokia, hopefully the new CEO will steer the ship in a completely new direction, after taking on board, and actually doing something about, the godawful decisions that have been made within that company over the last few years!

  12. Ben Smith September 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    Agreed – that would be very interesting!

  13. CheckSix September 14, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    Interesting. I like many of his ideas actually. I think it is crucially important that the next CEO is not from the house, because if he had been, there most likely would not be big reforms management wise that absolutely needs to be made. Very few people are capable to make big changes in management if he has been working with same people for many years.

  14. Ewan September 14, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    CheckSix, in Risku's interview with Andrew at The Register, he actually reckoned that an American CEO would be a disaster for Nokia given it's Finnish culture! I'll need to ask him what he thinks of Elop.

  15. PatrickatJPR September 14, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    Hi Ewan

    I'm afraid that I think that all of Risku's thoughts are very, very flawed. Basically because he doesn't suggest that you and I run the whole thing!

  16. Ewan September 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    Is there a good executive bathroom?

  17. a nokia has-been September 15, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    “was head of Symbian user experience design”. Hell yea. He indeed was for some 3 months and achieved nothing. Those who really made the initial success of Series 60 were fired or forgotten years ago – and you can see that from Nokia portfolio of products.

  18. Ewan September 15, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    So what’s your view? Keep the management team as it stands?

  19. Jon Mulholland September 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    And after todays balloon stunt, I think I’d add a few folks from the Nokia PR team to that list 🙂

  20. Ex-Nokian September 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm #

    I have been working with Mr. Risku during his time at Nokia. There are man thousands of people working there, most of them silently waiting to leave at 4 o’clock. He has been one of the few people I have gotten to known who has relentlessly tried to make changes. Although I cannot claim I have seen every thing he has done but in most of the cases he plans and ideas were torpedoed by his direct bosses or above.

    It is a Nokia culture to not respond to good ideas form the inside nor outside, only close friends of the top management might have a change to present some (mediocre as it has proven) plans.

    @ a nokia has-been
    in 3 months one can barely get a clear picture of how a unit is run, so do not blame Mr. Risku for not being able to do something. What have you done?

    If you have worked, or still work, at Nokia you might also know that being a “head” somewhere comes without a mandate, budget or any power. You basically run a predefined project for 1 or more layers above you. If you have never worked at Nokia, first ask questions regarding his position, the time he spent there etc.


  21. Julien Theys September 15, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Maybe it’s less about replacing people within a bureaucracy and more about changing said bureaucracy so that good ideas rise to the top.

  22. Tim September 16, 2010 at 9:07 am #


    Yes, I’m pretty much in total agreement – the key information is that he was in that particular post 3 months. Even with absolute control, there’s little chance of achieving real change in that timescale.

    And, I’m in agreement with your point elsewhere, the issues at Nokia are likely to be structural. I’m not convinced that naming names really helps here, essentially the key issues must be identified and people trusted and empowered to fix them. Oh, it sounds so simple doesn’t it? Perhaps the implication is that the key people named don’t have the skills or conviction to do this.

    For me, the first issue to address is the UI. I’ve been through a decent selection of the smartphones in the last few years – Windows Mobile, original iPhone, settling on an N95. IMO the Nokia hardware is clearly superior, and Symbian is a good OS under the hood. However, at best I have to tolerate the N95 UI, it absolutely infuriates me that I quite regularly have to re-discover ‘basic’ functionality.

    Not convinced that the move to Linux is the best idea either – I’ve still got the scars of my N770 purchase a few years ago. Again, great hardware, in that case let down by extremely buggy OS port. Again, for me the UI, not the OS, is the key though.

    The points made elsewhere on the marketing side ring true to me too – Nokia/Ovi Maps is a great offering, I’ve got the whole world on my N95 and use it regularly, but it hardly seems to be mentioned as a differentiating feature over GMaps on the iPhone (Maps UI is slightly crappy though…)

    Anyway, enough of my stream of consciousness, it’s certainly good news that Nokia have recognised that they have a problem.


  23. NAPOLS September 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    Finnish brotherhood prevents such house clearing. There is an unstated edict in the company to keep jobs in Finland where all employees are unionized and have incredible benefits. Even once negotiated out of their position employees remain on payroll without work for many months giving them time to use their social network to get another job. This is a substantial barrier to success and one which won’t be overcome easily.

  24. Ric September 19, 2010 at 6:55 am #

    Are you guys serious. Juhani Risku has never had any senior or even superior position in Nokia. I am sure the guys has never even met any senior person of Nokia management. He was a failure colleague in NRC, who achieved absolutely nothing during his time in Nokia and was finally given notice as free riders were cleared. He might have opinions, but they are based on no particular knowledge about the company, other than a glance from the sidelines of the company’s peripheral activity.

  25. Ewan September 19, 2010 at 9:06 am #

    I’ve never had a senior position in Nokia either. Still qualified to give my opinion though 😉

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