Nokia: Why Weren't They Strategically Agile Enough?

Posted by Michael Lindberg on Dec 6, 2016 12:39:29 PM

What is strategic agility


“We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”


These were the words of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop when he concluded the press conference where it was announced that the mobile phone branch of Nokia would be sold to Microsoft. But was he right? Didn’t Nokia do anything wrong? I mean, apparently they must have since they could go from a market share of an impressive 50% to a catastrophic 3% in just a few years.

Lack of strategic agility?

Many have tried to explain how it could go like that. Stephen Elop has been named as one of the very reasons, but I happen to disagree. The memo he sent to the employees two years previously showed that he knew that Nokia was in dire straits and, more importantly, also why:


“How did we get to this point? Why did we fall behind when the world around us evolved? This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven’t been delivering innovation fast enough. We’re not collaborating internally.”


So the problem was not caused by the market nor by the competitors. It was internal. Nokia was not strategically agile enough (too many people, too many decision layers) and at the same time they had become complacent. (their upcoming MeeGo operating system was believed to become much better than both iOS and Android).

Benefit from change

When the world around you changes, you need to change as well. But you can’t change fast enough if you're not strategically agile and you've become complacent. These are some of the lessons to be learned from Nokia: every organization needs to be agile in order to benefit from the dynamic marketplace. However, with Nokia recently being sold by Microsoft they are once again planning to enter the mobile phone market, but this time with technology that could disrupt the industry. Lets wait and see if they've learned from their previous mistakes. 


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Topics: Sales, Change