Innovation Blog

Innovation Management: If you don’t execute, you WILL be executed

By Shlomo Maital

In 2007, we visited Nokia headquarters on a benchmarking visit with a group of Israeli managers.  We heard from top Nokia leaders, including Jorma Olilla, and were deeply and profoundly impressed by what they told us. 

    A Nokia VP, Jonas Gøst (pronounced Guest), told us about his “four screen” analysis —  the first screen was movies (individual enjoyment); the second screen, TV (individual enjoymenet),  third screen computer (individual enjoyment), but the fourth screen is MMD (multi-media device),  the experience is communal/networked.  MMD of course is a “smart phone”.  Nokia truly “got it” early.  They did their homework thoroughly.  They surveyed 300,000 cell phone users, understood their needs, and segmented the market into 12 segments, and designed and marketed a phone specially tailored for each.  They invented smart phones.

   By all odds, Nokia should today RULE the smart phone market worldwide.

    The actual result:  as of Q3 2010, Nokia’s global cell phone market share has fallen, in just 12 months, from 36.7 per cent down to 28.2 per cent, a huge drop of 8.5 per cent in just a year. Nokia’s mobile operating system Symbian once ruled the world, and is now plummeting, overtaken by Android.  Nokia has lost the American smart phone market to Apple, and has nearly disappeared from that key market.  Apple ate their lunch.

     What in the world?

     I think it is all about execution.  In innovation, if you don’t execute, you will be executed.

    The mobile OS  Symbian was complex, hard to use, and failed to enlist masses of developers.  Nokia’s decision to make it ‘open source’ Symbian,  spun off into a non-profit foundation, was a huge error.  The Nokia smartphones were well designed, well conceived – and failed to excite, they had no ‘wow’!  Nokia focused on the ‘what’ of product development, not on the ‘for whom?’ (for those who love cool stuff, e.g.). 

     You can have the greatest strategic innovation plan in the world.  If you don’t execute it fl flawlessly, your products will be executed – and so will you  — Olli-Pekka Kallasvua  the  Nokia CEO  has been fired and replaced by former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop.  Elop’s first decision has been to radically revamp Symbian, re-integrate it into Nokia and improve it radically.