Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review of "Transforming Nokia: The Power of Paranoid Optimism to Lead Through Colossal Change," by Risto Siilasmaa

Review of
Transforming Nokia: The Power of Paranoid Optimism to Lead Through Colossal Change, by Risto Siilasmaa ISBN 9781260128727

Five out of five stars
 Resilient and adaptable is a word that well describes the Nokia company. Founded as a pulp mill, it grew dramatically in the area of electronics and became a regional behemoth by 2000. Immediately before the bursting of the dot-com bubble, Nokia accounted for 4% of the Finnish GDP, 21% of the country’s exports and an amazing 70% of the capital on the Helsinki Stock Exchange. Nokia was featured in many articles about business success in both large and small companies.
 Then it all began to fall apart, Nokia was a major victim of the dramatic drop in tech stocks when the dot-com bubble burst as well as a loss of market share due to the rise of major competitors. Driven to the brink of bankruptcy, the company was forced to sell, consolidate, cancel product lines and seek a strategic partnership with Microsoft. Nokia survived and is once again a stable, thriving company. In the language of reality, at least for now.
 The author was an officer of Nokia in the last years of the good times, CEO through some of the bad times and was Chairman of the Board at the time the book was written. Therefore, he presents significant insights into how a powerhouse company can be riding high and then be rapidly chewed up by competitors that rise quickly with new and innovative products. Of course, being a key component of the turn-around, there is some natural bias towards the skills of the major players.
 Yet, this book is very instructive and flashes a warning sign to executives that think they have the world by a sensitive  body part. The line from one of the Mad Max movies is appropriate here, “One day you’re the cock-of-the-walk and the next a feather duster.” Nokia’s position in the markets seemed assured, right up to the point it wasn’t. In the modern world, companies rise fast and often fall faster, “paranoid optimism” is a good phrase to follow if you are in a leadership position. The American Boy Scout motto is also appropriate, “Be prepared.”

No comments:

Post a Comment