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Episode from the podcastDiana Kander: Professional AF

S3 | E7: The Greatest After Action Review of All Time: Nokia's Historic Collapse with Timo Vuori

Released Tuesday, 17th November 2020
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In 2007 Nokia had 50% of the world’s cell phone market. The cover of Forbes magazine in November of 2007 read – Nokia – 1 Billion Customers – Can Anyone Catch the Cell Phone King? And in less than six years Nokia’s cell phone division tanked so quickly that they stopped selling cell phones and sold the division to Microsoft. Six years! It was one of the fastest collapses in corporate history.
Thanks to the research of two business professors, Timo Vuori and Quy Huy, we know that it was fear at Nokia that precipitated its fall from grace.
Today we have one of the professors to discuss the interviews with 76 of Nokia’s top managers, including two CEOs, vice presidents, middle managers, engineers, and external experts. These conversations, lasting an average of 90 minutes, are, in my opinion, the best after action review ever created. 
And they highlight something really profound. While the senior executives were externally focused and worried about competition from Apple, Google and Research In Motion (RIM), their subordinates didn't share their concerns. Instead, middle managers were internally focused, worrying about what their managers wanted from them. And this dynamic that we're going to discuss today is prevalent in every other organization Professor Timo has studied. 

Timo and I are going to discuss:
  • The most comprehensive case study every done on a company
  • The danger of doing after action reviews internally rather than asking an outsider to help
  • How organizations inadvertently create fear within their workforce
  • And how those fears prevent an organization from taking corrective action when it's in danger. 
Thanks for listening and be sure to find me online to tell me what you thought of the episode!