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Nokia’s New Chief Faces a Culture of Complacency –

From Nokia’s New Chief Faces a Culture of Complacency –

As Nokia’s new chief executive, Stephen Elop, takes over this month, he faces a formidable task: to regain the company’s lost ground in the smartphone segment of the global phone market, especially in the United States, while maintaining its worldwide dominance as the largest maker of mobile phones.

His biggest obstacle, according to Mr. Hakkarainen, as well as two other former employees and industry analysts, may well be Nokia’s stifling bureaucratic culture. In interviews, Mr. Hakkarainen and the other former employees depicted an organization so swollen by its early success that it grew complacent, slow and removed from consumer desires. As a result, they said, Nokia lost the lead in several crucial areas by failing to fast-track its designs for touch screens, software applications and 3-D interfaces.

Having worked at Nokia for 10 years, albeit for a part of the company that had nothing to do with mobile phones, I can say that complacent, risk-adverse middle management is largely responsible for the quandary Nokia is in today. It remains to be seen what playbook Stephen Elop is going to operate against, but if he doesn’t address the middle management problem, it will be all for naught.

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