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The Nokia Risku plan

Cutting through the crap

What about his cure, then? Risku told me in our interview that "the CEO is not the main problem at Nokia - Nokia's main effort is to find a person with credibility and trust to lead 1500 designers and innovators in product creation and design".

But one experienced industrial designer told me:

I don't think so - I fear it's much more about making a huge organisation be able to react and innovate and deliver on ideas, despite the inevitable bureaucracy big firms have. There will be literally dozens of people working in Nokia Design who, if given the setup and process to let them design and deliver, could lead and produce awesome products. It's not a mathematically improbable lack of talent, it's standard big company paralysis.

One thing that struck me is Risku's insistence on the co-CEO being a Finn. Risku told me that "To avoid catastrophic nominations no American or foreigner should be the CIO/CCO because Nokia product creation from innovations through concepting to design is very Finnish issue. The American movement, American business culture with arrogance and aggression has paralysed Nokia since 2003."

Is this xenophobic or practical, I wondered?

The insertion of the words "or foreigner" is disingenuous. Not every foreigner does American Business Culture. Not everyone's Morgan Gillis.

Let's hear from inside Nokia again:

Expanding on Juhani's thoughts on the Finn-centrism: Nokia needs to look outside of Finland for talent below board level too.  We have people in the UK who have vision drive and experience but they often get nowhere and are reporting to fast-tracked Finns with maybe 10 years less seniority.

Nokia also needs to look for the best ideas rather than the best Finnish ones; despite the Finnish cultural leaning toward consensus the received attitude is that Salo or Oulu are doing something in such a way and so the rest of the world must align with that.

And Thucydides Sigs (not his real name) adds:

There are beautiful things in the Finnish culture - but from my experience with it, it is inherently risk averse and slow. (Yes, there are exceptions - and Risku you might be one of them) This is where I disagree with you. As long as the center stays in Finland, I don't see how Nokia can turn into risk taking, fast moving company.

There's more from him here.

But reader Andy Crofts, who lives and works in Finland, says Risku is being sensible, not xenophobic.

One has to bear in mind that Nokia (which gets its name from a small town near Tampere) is strongly and - fiercely - Finnish. They had to endure a lot more in World War II than even the Brits, so I assume that's where the Finnish word "sisu" = "True Grit - guts - balls" comes from.

The culture of the Finns, compared to the Brits/Americans is strangely relaxed, but they're accurate and incredibly reliable. If you ask (for example) a Brit "When can I expect the report?" you'll get the answer "Hopefully, in a week or so". Ask a Finn, their reply will be 15:00 - Wednesday. It will be on your desk at that time. No question.

Finns perform, while the Brits are having a couple of pints with their Ploughman's Lunch, and the Americans will show their boss how keen they are, by working overtime chatting around the water cooler.

I know who I'd bank on. So, that's why I think Juhani has a point. Having lived here 12 years, it was difficult to fault his conclusion.

Cheers Andy, clearly a happy ex-pat.

Now what are the chances of Risku making a turn at next month's Nokia World? Pretty slim, I figure. ®

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