Sunday, December 26, 2010

John Wayne trying to save Nokia

A couple of days ago Helsingin Sanomat published an interview with Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Nokia's former CEO who got sacked this September. In this personal interview OPK tells about his feelings for the first time after he stepped down from his Nokia position. It's a good read, please take a look.

For quite some time Nokia hasn't been famous for innovative products and its new rivals have made Nokia look like an old struggling giant. Nokia has been hit by the Innovator's Dilemma.

Think for a second what would you need in order to be "innovative". I'd list things like time to think, seeing things from a new perspective, vision about future, sharing ideas with unexpected people and hard work - and this is just a start.

Then read carefully OPK's interview, especially the part where he tells about his work routines. Twelve hours spent daily at the office and after that working some more from home. He had vacation only a couple of days annually and for five years he couldn't visit trot races - his favourite hobby. Christmas lunch with friends he had this year first time in fifteen years!

How do you think an organization acts when the leader works like John Wayne, trying to alone save the entire company? My guess is that next management levels are trying to follow him, because they think it is the right way to work in this company. The more you work, the better you are and get closer to promotion. No casual meetings, no lunches with friends, no hobbies, no vacation. Just work.

If you work like that, you will lose most of the things that I feel are the requirements for innovations. If you don't have any slack in your calendar, when does your mind work freely? If you don't even have time to meet friends, how can you get exposed to fresh thinking? If you work like that, can you evaluate the innovations presented to you and decide where to invest?

Another small detail that caught my eye was that OPK will probably never buy an iPhone, he wants to remain loyal to Nokia. Many times I've thought that Nokia's top executives shouldn't only be allowed but instead forced to use their competitors' products in everyday use for a month or so. If they see something nice in their products, Nokia could proudly imitate those features - that's what their competitors do, anyway. And finally they would know what struck them.