Nokia's problem: Is there time to change culture amid a burning platform?

An internal memo from Nokia CEO Stephen Elop diagnoses the company's problem well. The problem is Elop doesn't have time to change Nokia's culture in the fast-evolving smartphone market.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop in an internal memo diagnoses the company's problems very directly. Nokia resides on a burning platform and the company needs to do something.

That's the gist of a memo posted by Engadget. Elop talks about how Apple's iPhone and Android lapped Nokia. He pointedly notes that Nokia's savior OS---once thought to be MeeGo---will only be on one device in 2011. The memo highlights a sense of urgency for Elop and provides a nice lead in to Friday's strategy powwow.

First, let's give props to Elop for diagnosing the problem. But I'm not hopeful about Nokia's prospects. Why? Elop's money graph for me is here:

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.

Bottom line: Nokia's culture is broken. When the platform is burning revamping a culture can take too long. As Nokia retools---perhaps by joining the Windows Phone 7 or Android ecosystem---it will lose at least a year in the smartphone race. Simply put, Nokia's task ahead is daunting to say the least.

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