The Risku Manifesto: A radical plan to rescue Nokia


Following on from Tomi’s lengthy piece on Nokia (“Nokia’s fall from grace: The Background Story“), I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew Orlowski’s piece in today’s Register.

Andrew interviewed a former senior Nokia Executive, Juhani Risku, who’s penned a ‘diagnosis of the company’ along with ‘some radical surprising solutions.’

It makes for a super read. A super read.

Whilst Tomi was talking about the background and (generally) external factors, Juhani gets stuck right in — naming names — and documenting utter, utter disasters.

The funny thing is, we knew it anyway — well, we suspected.

For instance, check out this quote:

In the case of Maps following the €8bn Navteq acquisition, nothing happened for six months. Then Google made Maps free. More recently, it has made turn-by-turn navigation free. In another case, the bureaucracy implemented processes carelessly.

“One day, one of those people responsible for directing User Experience at Symbian came in and said – you can’t work anymore with the old process any more. Everyone asked what that new process is – and she didn’t say what it was. So 200 people were doing nothing for six months.

“A strategy is devised, then it’s delayed a bit, then delayed a bit more… then it’s already old.”

It’s magnificient, truly magnificent, to see this kind of feedback — from a guy who actually *witnessed* it.

Because we’ve all been witnessing it from the outside. We saw the acquisition. We saw absolutely NOTHING happen for 6 months. Heh.

Dear me.

Dear, dear me.

Anyway, get another coffee and do check out Risku’s perspective at The Register.

I’ll finish with this final quote:

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.

Oh dear.

[The image at the top of this post, by the way, is one of Nokia’s now well forgotten Aeon ‘concept’ phones — more details at The Reg Hardware]

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

5 replies on “The Risku Manifesto: A radical plan to rescue Nokia”

Seriously, this all rings true, there is no proper leadership, no direction and definitely no inspiration.

Recently read this on Quora about working at Apple:

“Corporate Culture
Apple is a pretty divided mix of typical corporate red tape and politics mixed in with startup level urgency when the direction comes from Steve. If you have a project that Steve is not involved in, it will take months of meetings to move things forward. If Steve wants it done, it's done faster than anyone thinks is humanly possible. The best way to get any cross departmental work done was to say its for Steve and you'd probably have it the same day.”

Either OPK is out of touch with what's going on or doesn't have the ability to take the bull by the horns. How you can let a 8bn aquistion sit on their arse when the market is at light speed is beyond me. I met the Navteq guys, really clever with some wicked products.

I think when Google made turn by turn free it really hit home to me how slow Nokia are to move, how could they not see that coming? If I was telling colleagues about the likelihood of it happening 6 months before it actually did then I expect someone in strategy to be 18 months ahead of me steering the ship.

Look at the Apple Quattro acquisition, how long did it take for them to launch iAd and turn the whole thing into a product? 4/5 months?

Then look at the Nokia acquisition of Enpocket, bumbled around, and well, we know the end of that story.

Say what you want about Steve Jobs but you always get the feeling he's pushing the company towards a direction. Same goes for Facebook and many others. At Nokia it always felt like no one really knew what they wanted to do, no captain, no clear vision.

Facepalms all round.

A few years ago Nokia in the UK were recruiting. A couple of people I worked with looked in to it and got interviews. We're talking good, experienced software engineers here. When asked how much they expected in salary Nokia did the old sucking through their teeth thing and said stuff like “why would we pay that when we can get grads in and train them”? Seemed rather short-sighted of them at the time. Perhaps the chickens are coming home to roost due to that sort of policy. Everyone with any sense knows training can never provide you with everything you need to know, you need experienced people to mentor and support staff.

Can't comment without having to give out sensitive information, but what Risku says is so true..
So much potential in this company, so much waste at management level.

It seems the Nokia BoD waited way too long to replace OPK; to inject new blood into the management team. Not only to gain a fresh perspective, but also a heightened sense of vulnerability and urgency. As Andy Groves wrote in his book…a healthy sense of paranoia. Clearly, the management culture was way too insular for such a competitive and global market. Apple may not have been a better innovator (this is debatable), but without question it was better at 1) understanding the higher margin market and 2) executing with precision. The ultimate case for the disruptor strategy. We know that Nokia has been in a turnaround for the last 3 years…I am still critical of the BoD for not making the CEO change 2 years ago.

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