Nokia journey – Adventure roller coaster for thousands! What’s yours?

29 passengers were stuck dangling from the Galactica roller coaster that broke down earlier this month. 

Galactica is the first flying virtual reality roller coaster in the world. It’s situated in Staffordshire-based adventure park – AltonTowers. Galactica (earlier called Air) has been operating since 1990, but opened this first complete VR ride with a once in a lifetime ride promise earlier this year. Of the 29 passengers who were stuck there, some of them will have an incredible story to narrate, while few others will never board another adventure ride (atleast for some time). 

I see great parallels in this incident and Nokia mobile phones for the last 20 years. A beautiful ride, that gave the thrills, shrills, got rescued and roughly about 29000 were part of this ride. Some will have a great story to share, others will want to forget it altogether, while few others will soon want to be on a similar ride again. 

2007 – A year which is well known in the mobile phones history for Apple iPhone launch, also happens to be the year that I joined Nokia. It was a phase where every HR article and business school was quoting Nokia as a role model for hiring and retaining the best talent. From MIT Sloan to HBR everyone quoted Nokia’s people practices. Maybe few outliers, but it definitely was an abundance of incredible talent ;-). 

Extremely skilled, highly engaged, hardworking employees who lived and believed in the promise of connecting people and delighting customers.

Fast forward to 2016, and everyone will have a view on what could have happened? Android? Burning platform? Trojan horse? Or why this roller coaster? But this is a moment to sit back, celebrate the journey, friendships, people and get on to a different adventure again. 

Customers have moved on to new products and technology. They still have fond memories about Nokia – their first phone or best phone. But who doesn’t?

Nokia today is a 30Billion $ company, and is focusing on network and technology business. Through HMD, they will take another shot at smartphones. It won’t be the same ride, but adventurous for sure. 

Microsoft continues to bring out great technology products. Windows 10 is gaining momentum and the new focus will help them compete again. Now they can play to their software strengths and continue to grow.

Employees who were part of this ride, and have seen the ups and downs between 2007-2016. These are definitely testing times for all the employees. Luckily, several of them have moved on to new paths – entrepreneurship, new jobs, education, sabbatical, teaching, travelling, among other options. In the coming months/years, each one will set off on many more adventures and will continue to carry this legacy forward. 

It’ll be a  win-win-win-win situation in the end, and not many chapters can end this way. 

These employees from Nokia/Microsoft school of management will be invaluable for companies in the future. Apart from the functional expertise and the leadership style, the below qualities can only be gained with experience:

  • Empathy: Celebrating each others successes, failures, and also farewells. Continuously moving forward during good, as well as difficult times
  • Delighting customers through uncertainty, both at micro and macro level
  • The real ability to manage a team/business, that is growing as well as falling
  • Finnish Sisu – Never say die attitude. Given a chance, each and every employee would want to fight this battle once again

To all my ex-Nokia/Microsoft colleagues – thank you for the ride and look forward to the ‘Connecting Nokia people’ summer party! If I can help you in anyway or if you would simply like to have a chat/coffee, then drop me a note and let’s reconnect.