Former Nokia exec nows calls for an axe to fall across management

Next Story

Toyota Will Launch Six New Hybrids By End Of 2012

We’ve speculated that the sudden rush of executive departures from Nokia might be an indication of an ‘Ides of March’ moment at the mobile giant. Now, the former head of Symbian user experience design and Forum Nokia has called for the resignation of 13 key executives and claims Nokia is now following his own plan of re-making the company. Even if he’s an outlier, his suggestions are almost certain to set the cat amongst the pigeons.

Juhani Risku spent nine years at Nokia from 2001 was also head of Nokia Showroom, where operators make their decisions on Nokia systems.

To date long-time CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo has been replaced by Stephen Elop (Mr Microsoft Office), the chairman is going, while Anssi Vanjoki, head of mobile solutions, announced his departure only yesterday.

Back in June The Register published an extensive interview with Risku about his Finnish language book “New Nokia – the manuscript” which has caused a stir of controversy in Finland.

Now UK blog Mobile Industry Review has published an email it’s received from Risku, which calls for a vast resignation program at Nokia, which he calls the “GRO” or “Get-Rid-Of” program in his book.

His suggestions include named individuals with a few surprising suggestions.

One is Marko Ahtisaari, SVP, the boss of Nokia Design and former CEO of Dopplr, which was acquired, most think, simply for its staff. Risku’s damning criticism accuses him of having no “design education, competence or experience,” (update: although MIR appears to have got cold feet and removed the quote).

Others are similarly excoriated in his email.

He goes on to make several suggestions including “Work harder –> all DLT and top management to work during every second weekend, working days from 8 AM to 8 PM.”

You mean they don’t already?

So, what do you think? Think he’s right? Leave a comment, or if you’re a Nokia exec, why not email us?

  • Risku: 13 Executives The New Nokia CEO Should Sack Today | Mobile Industry Review

    […] Mike Butcher at TechCrunch picks up the story: Former Nokia exec nows calls for an axe to fall across management Tags: featured, nokia, risku « NokiaWorld: The Only Possibility Today is […]

  • James MacAonghus

    A change in management at a stagnating company like Nokia might well be good; that said Risku had his chance given that part of the smartphone revolution is all about the OS user experience.

  • Brian S Hall

    Anyone who’s ever visited my site knows I’m tough on Nokia, but this guy – an insider — brings it. Plus, he has been fairly public about this stuff for a while. Not just now that a new CEO has been named.

    But, yeah, he’s right. THe market–and marketplace — have spoken. New CEO will have to lop off some heads. Then some divisions.

    • Ex-Nokian

      @Aku since when do you speak on behalf of the +/- 5 million Finns?

      @Jim Griffin Mr. Ahtisaari has had his change to prove he can started/ran projects but of the 30+ projects he did during his first stay at Nokia all failed to deliver. He has studied philosophy, economics and music. Not design, engineering or a related study.

      @and old timer
      very good text

      Design is seen too often as an afterthought and not as 1 of the core drivers in product/service development. This is partially due to the image many designers have created themselves. A good designer knows how to use a spreadsheet to quantify strategies as well as is able to sketch processes and products.

      • Jim Griffin

        Ex-N: Design strategy ought not be left to engineers nor to linear thinkers. We can differ on the outcome of Ahtisaari Nokia projects (not in the same job, nor did he run the team as now), but Dopplr and the depth and breadth of his education and experience (Satama, Nokia, Blyk, Dopplr, etc.) make him ideal for this task. Besides, Nokia’s light is too often hidden under a bucket; Finns are not always their most articulate, best representatives. Ahtisaari rises above this and is an excellent contributor to the broader global community of ideas. It shows in the confidence and strength of his presentations on Nokia’s behalf. The seriousness with which the world follows his words is unquestionable and is marketing that money can’t buy, credibility that is unattainable any other way. Jobs has it now, Nokia needs it.

      • Ex-Nokian

        Hi there Jim, I agree, it should not be left to engineers, nor linear thinkers (nor MBAs etc). Problem with Mr. Ahtisaari is not so much his “broad experience” but he has had his change, failed and from what I hear inside N he has little support on the (design) floor. My fear is he has been taken on board for the wrong reasons and not based on his achievements.

        We will probably differ till the end of time about this and I do not like to make this a personal issue against Mr. Ahtisaari. Nokia needs a person with a strong vision, guts to remove many items from the portfolio and get going.

        Kind regards

  • Aku

    Trust me, this guy is a total nutcase. Everybody in Finland knows it and nobody takes him seriously. Somehow he has now been able to get someone to notice him abroad, but I have on doubt that everyone will quite soon notice his true mental state.

    • Palerma

      Who is total nutcase, guy who disagree with now resigned management team, or they who already drove company down?

      • Nokian

        This guy IS a nutcase. Of course any sane person who knows this market knows Nokia is in trouble, but Mr. Risku is certainly not the right person to give anyone advice.

        I had the displeasure of working with him; he was let go of his position (which was FAR from an executive one) in less than 9 months for bringing absolutely zero results during his tenure.

        In addition, he seems to be obsessed with architecture (and 3D pictures), so whenever possible he completely deviated from the subject of the meetings to something related to architecture (and the f*cking 3D pictures), reason why he ceased to be invited to any important meetings.

        There are many (ex-) Nokians who love the company and can give you a far better picture of what’s happening here; Mr. Risku is definetely not of of them.

  • Jim Griffin

    Marko Ahtisaari is the solution at Nokia, not the problem. How can he be blamed for years of trouble that led to this strategic inflection point? He’s been with the company a brief period of time, literally months. He is its future, not its past.

    • Informed

      Marko Ahtisaari is not new to Nokia, he was at Nokia for a number of years in the same role he has now. Then he left, founded Dopplr, sold it to Nokia and returned to Nokia to assume his previous role.

      His father is also the former President of Finland.

      I’m not Finnish, never worked at Nokia and never worked with Mr. Ahtisaari. So I have no idea what is really going on inside the company.

      Even if Ahtisaari is a genius, smart guys like him are usually held back because of incompetent management at the very top, which could explain why he left Nokia the first time.

      And if this is a “consensus” driven company, Finnish are similar to the Japanese in this sense, the only way for the company to truly change is to bring in foreign management who will lead in a top down fashion. It looks as though this is happening now.

      • Juho Ratava

        On “consensus” vs. “top-down”: Finland is not Sweden. Actually one of Risku’s points is that the engineers and designers should be listened more instead of just implementing year-old ideas from execs, if I remember correctly.

        Anyway, some food for thought:

      • my2cents

        Interesting: “Even if Ahtisaari is a genius, smart guys like him are usually held back because of incompetent management at the very top”. He now is at (over) the top, and by virtue of the previous comment, cannot be a genius or a smart guy.
        For whatever reason he may have left: ever heard of NVO, Nokia Venture Organization. Between 2002-2007 he was responsible for UI

  • Risku: 13 Executives The New Nokia CEO Should Sack Today [Updated] | Mobile News & Reviews

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

  • william culver

    Guys like this pay no attention to the human factor. The company operation could suffer.

  • Jan

    If you by “work” mean spending time on airplanes and in airport lounges…

  • and old timer

    First of all, Risku’s not a nutcase. I’ve also worked with him and while he’s a personality, he’s highly creative, extremely observant and very intelligent.

    Clear verbal output is not always his strong suite, but if you catch what he’s aiming at it is fairly easy to see the point in his analysis.

    Exact names here are somewhat irrelevant, although it’s easy to agree with many of Risku’s choices.

    Nokia has stagnated. It’s been too successful for it’s own good. Hamel and Prahalad wrote about this almost two decades ago.

    Now it needs a good old stir-up. Some people have to go, not necessarily because it’s their fault where the company is now, but because the company must renew.

    And to renew it must bring in people who think differently and not with the same kool-aid thinking. Nokia already tried the kool-aid during OPKs tenure and look where it took them.

    Still, many of the building blocks are starting to come in place: Qt, MeeGo and even Symbian refactoring.

    The remaining problems are structural, processual and skill-level.

    Nokia has almost zero top-management design strategy understanding. Marko is a nice guy, but design strategist he is not.

    Also, to really leverage design in all of their products and all of their processes, design cannot be a competency pool. It needs to be in all processes, within most crucial job descriptions and at low and high level.

    Nokia has had brilliant design, usability and UX people for years, but very few middle-level managers who can lead and leverage this group.

    As for the top-management, they have pretty much an understanding of design as something pretty.

    On top of this all, the Nokia product cycle is way too slow.

    From a strategy point of view their tactic is to copy, not innovate. They’ve said it this themselves.

    The problem is that their product cycle is way over 2 years long, when the staggered cycle of their Android competitors is 1 year or less.

    How can you copy with a cycle of 2 years, when the competitions offerings get renewed every year or so?

    It’s just not possible.

    Either they have to innovate themselves or they have to radically reduce their cycle time.

    All this means letting a lot of people go, cutting down on bureaucracy, streamlining all processes, making design one of their core process skills and starting to innovate again.

    It’s not like Nokia doesn’t have a capability to innnovate ideas, it is just that the implementation of these ideas from the rank and file level to actual processes and products has been sub-par for years already.

    So, Elop really has a tough job ahead. He needs to cut hard and also reinvigorate and lead the remaining people.

    It will be difficult and if I may say, the odds are not in his favor.

    But here’s hoping for the best as the market really needs green and value driven companies like Nokia.

    • Forumcommentator

      @ and old timer – very agreeable stuff!

      My only disagreement is with regards to Nokia’s OS strategy – from the outside it appears to be a shambles – as fragmented as their device offerings, and again, as you say with respect to phone builds, also too slow to get to market.

      Perhaps I will be proven wrong – I hope so, as I like Nokia – good hardware – features just work, and one of my first phones was made by them.

      It’s a pity they didn’t buy Palm, as WebOS could have been put to real use by Nokia, whereas I don’t believe HP has the balls to anger Microsoft by pushing WebOS phones against Windows Phone Series phones.

      WebOS could (just guessing) have solved Nokia’s smartphone OS choice over night, and actually been a very nice fit aesthetically for Nokia’s brand.
      But it wouldn’t solve what to run on the lower end phones.

      In this regard, Apple’s iPod product differentiation appears to be a good model for Nokia to follow, albeit they could still offer more than 3(?) models, but a cheaper non-smartphone tier of phones like Nano and higher end phones – smartphones – running more than just a realtime OS but an app OS too, which is where WebOS would have fit in.

      You are painfully right about Nokia’s lack of design direction and internal processes supporting it. Again, if anyone looks at Apple’s mobile product line, it’s easy to see how design direction has been internalised at a management level from the re-use of screen materials where screens are cut double sized to be made iPads, and the new Nano is reuses the bottom half of the old one. This saves Apple big money, speeds up time to market, and still keeps customers happy.

      It’s this kind of streamlining of design integration that is a must for Nokia or it will continue to lose more market share to cut through products from Apple and other competitors.

      Too many lazy minds have accused Apple of being the new (bad) Sony, but the truth is… Nokia is the new Sony – of mobile. Like Sony, Nokia is missing common interoperabilty between its (too) many devices – a binding ecosystem, but instead try to differentiate on hardware and the appearance of hardware, making little isolated product islands that further reinforce organisational silos.

      The alternative is as others have said, that Nokia caves to solely using Android (or dare I say it – Windows Phone Series) in its smartphones and loses any sense of autonomy.

      I hope someone at Nokia is reading your recommendations!

  • Haggie

    He rides a K-bike, so he is obviously a very smart person.

blog comments powered by Disqus