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Microsoft bricking lesson bodes badly for Elop's Brave New Nokia

There are times when you need a bureaucracy...

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If the WP team didn't know this, they do now. This is something that's very hard to do right. There are OEM variants, and each has diverse variants for multiple operators in multiple territories. Keeping track of all this is a job, and this is where it helps to have a large, experienced and highly structured set of engineering and administrative QC procedures. It helps to have something resembling - dare I say it - a bureaucracy. And this is what Nokia has, and is actually quite good at.

This is also what Elop has set out to destroy.

He evidently has a low regard for Nokia's ability to get things done quickly, and so has handed Nokia's WP development to small teams, to work closely with Microsoft and in isolation from the juggernaut of the bureaucracy he inherited. In essence, he's created a skunkworks within Nokia, while the old company is destroyed around it.

Jobs did something similar when he returned to Apple. Elop's conundrum is that he still needs a large, complex administrative apparatus to produce modern phones.

So what can he do? When Steve Jobs carried out his reverse-takeover of Apple, he brought with him staff experienced in creating high quality hardware, and mature, proven software, along with the people who had written it. They had experience of working together. That "skunkworks" was the NeXT.

Elop's job is so much harder. Little has prepared him for this, and even less has been written about this aspect of the strategy since he announced it on Black Friday.

There are very few precedents for what Nokia must do, and I'm stumped if I know. It's why I'm not a management consultant. I don't even know what a change management paradigm is (remember), or care particularly much that I don't know.

But if you multiply the damage caused by this week's patch, by the volumes of Windows Phone that Nokia wants to sell, you can see the problem. It's going to have to be fixed. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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