Take the CEO Quiz: Could you be the new CEO of Nokia? We understand that the Nokia Board of Directors uses a very complex quiz to test out its potential CEOs. This quiz is how the Board noticed how obviously incompetent the candidate Anssi Vanjoki was, and he was rejected.
This quiz is how the Board discovered the highly valued wunderkind Stephen Elop the Magnificent, who was hired to run the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, also world’s largest smartphone maker, also world’s widest-reaching mobile phone ecosystem by a massive margin, and also (then) world’s largest smartphone OS platform.
The questions are in the form of hypotheticals from various very different management scenarios in wildly different industries. This is the full quiz:
Question 1 - You hear that your reseller chain – the mobile operators/carriers – has gone into sales boycott because of one decision made by your company. Do you:
A) Apologize in public and reverse that one decision which is causing your resellers to boycott your products
B) Announce your support of a series of new technologies that the carriers specifically hate, to really infuriate them, like Dual SIM phones and Skype
Question 2 – Your smartphones have suffered years of declining average sales prices, and thus, declining profits. Suddenly in fourth quarter of 2010, you find that the new smartphones running the new version of Symbian, like the N8, are so big hits globally, that your average sales price jumps an unprecedented 15% – that means your company earned a bonus profit of 565 Million Euros in just one quarter or the annual equivalent of 3 Billion dollars of bonus profit. You take the bonus 565 Million Euros of pure profit, and
A) Thank the Symbian team and premium Nokia smartphones designers and celebrate Nokia’s huge comeback and put most of the bonus profit into promoting Symbian S^3 based phones like the N8 and E7
B) Fire the Symbian team and a total of 7,000 Nokia software developers as incompetent fools for making profitable and highly desirable products for Nokia
Question 3 – Your company has had several recently failed flagship smartphones in the past, like N96 and N97.
Tell us honestly, would you buy this phone: single sheet of metal, single sheet of (Gorilla) curved glass?
In June 2011, your newest flagship smartphone, the N9 is not just the hottest Nokia phone as far back as anyone can remember, it is legitimately the hottest phone the tech press has seen for at least a year by any manufacturer. Do you
A) Say we will sell it immediately in every market and it will have full management support and you increase the marketing effort allocated to its launch
B) Say it will not be sold in ANY of the largest European markets where Nokia is traditionally strong, such as the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, France; and also it will not be sold in many of Nokia’s biggest markets outside of Europe like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Philippines, South Africa etc.
Question 4 – Your operating system Symbian is widely seen as obsolete but the new version S^3 is released for Christmas 2010, and you find that Symbian S^3 is making a true comeback – it is both loved by consumers and is establising a Nokia record for new OS launch success. Do you
A) Celebrate the sudden success and give Symbian your complete support
B) Issue a ‘burning platforms memo’ full of mistakes and falsehoods which suggests Symbian is obsolete
Question 5 – You are witnessing a sales boycott of Symbian smartphones. But you also see that one of the two options for replacing Symbian is itself in boycott, as the resellers have stopped selling Microsoft WP7 based smartphones because they are punishing Microsoft for Skype. The resellers have not put MeeGo devices into a boycott, in fact they are in love with MeeGo. Do you
A) Launch the N9 phone with MeeGo now in every country and carrier and market that now has a Symbian boycott
B) Tell your resellers that in most markets there will be no MeeGo phones and all have to wait until December to see the one new smartphone made on WP7 that itself is now in boycott (replacing one boycott with another boycott)
Question 6 – You know your main operating system Symbian is growing old and needs to be replaced. You have two choices to replace it, one is MeeGo that you control but you were not sure if that will succeed in the market. The other is an operating system owned by a third party, Microsoft. MeeGo would be free to Nokia. Microsoft’s WP7 is a costly license where you pay a license for every single handset using WP7 and the control of the OS’s development is totally with Microsoft. Now you find that MeeGo is met with complete market love and affection and very positive support all around by the tech press. Do you
A) Say you are happily surprised by the reception MeeGo is having, congratulate Nokia’s MeeGo development team, and say you will support MeeGo and release it on several handsets
B) Declare that "even if the N9 and MeeGo are a success, you will not release any more phones on it"
Question 7 – After years of attempting to match the iPhone with failed phones like the N96 and the N97, your predecessors have spectacularly failed to deliver a hit ‘flagship’ product. But now for Christmas 2010 you discover that you have in the latest flagship handset, the N8, for the first time in many years a true hit product – so hot, it sets an internal record for biggest new Nokia phone launch ever, selling 4 million units in only three months. Do you
A) Celebrate the success of the N8 and use its buzz to preview newer Nokia S^3 phones coming soon in Q1 like the E7, X7, and to teach the market about newer Symbian versions like ‘Anna’
B) Release a memo saying Nokia phones are years behind the competitors and you announce the death of the Symbian OS.style="margin: 0px 0px 0px 40px;">
Question 8 – You are committed this year to two paths with different partners and different ecosystems. One is open source, using industry standard tools like Linux thus being a close cousin of Android and has a carrier (the giant China Mobile) among its supporters. The other is closed, using proprietary tools, no conceivable commonality with Android and it has no carriers to support it. While you thought the MeeGo option was not commercially viable, it is now proving vibrant and strong. At the same time the WP7 option that initially seemed strong, is proving very weak and already seeing its suppliers abandoning Microsoft while the resellers have gone into boycott. You obviously
A) Announce that you will shift emphasis to the ecosystem where you are in control which is most open, using industry standard tools and which has the most partners including a carrier – ie MeeGo
B) You announce that even as that open system is proven viable, and even as MeeGo will continue with or without Nokia, you will abandon it and rather go with the smallest, closed, ecosystem where you have no control where there are the least number of partners and where the partners themselves are abandoning the platform.
Question 9 – You surprisingly find that your N9 phone is the biggest hit phone of the summer. The reviewers are both impressed by N9 hardware, and MeeGo software. You have a second smartphone designed to work also on MeeGo, called the N950. It is ready for release for the vital Christmas season. Do you
A) Ride the buzz and excitement of the N9 launch and MeeGo, and promise the N950 to hit the market as soon as possible, launched in every country and on every carrier by Christmas and rushed to all Nokia promotions now, or
B) Refuse to sell the N950 in any market, and only make some prototype versions for some developers
Question 10 – Your brand is the market share leader on five of the six inhabited continents both in smartphones and dumbphones, by a wide margin. But in the US market your brand once held the lead but lost it seven years ago and today lingers in tiny market shares in both categories. Nokia’s demise in the US market was not because of bad handset designs, or bad user interfaces or bad operating systems or bad ecosystems; you yourself admit the biggest key to the US market is carrier relationships which had become poisoned around year 2004, and the US carriers have carried a grudge for the past seven years. You learn in January 2011 that your US sales staff have made a long-awaited breakthrough – some say deliver a miraculous sales success – and secured a carrier deal to promote the new touch screen X7 smartphone running the newest ‘Anna’ version of Symbian, with none other than AT&T. The Carrier is so eager to launch this phone with Nokia, they are set to come to the world’s biggest mobile telecoms industry event, the Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona in February, to a joint CEO event with you to announce the return of Nokia to the premium end of the US smartphone market. You
A) Drop everything else, as the US investors more than anything else, would love a major carrier to embrace a new Nokia smartphone as a flagship phone – and this one event would establish you as the biggest hero, achieving what both of your predecessors failed to do in returning Nokia premium phones and Symbian OS to carrier supported status in the USA
B) You cancel the launch – yes, you Nokia cancel AT&T’s launch of Nokia’s X7 – and say you would rather take the stage in Barcelona with Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, to announce a partnership which includes not a single carrier deal in America or anywhere else. Also, tell AT&T to screw themselves for putting the X7 phone in biggest 2011 movie hit yet, the Transformers 3.
Question 11 – As you face a reseller boycott and your own giant smartphone factories are running idle, but as your factories are wholly owned by Nokia, it means you have highly skilled and competent handset manufacturing staff being paid for doing nothing, you have to launch a completely new smartphone running Microsoft WP7. You
A) Use one of your own idle smartphone factories to manufacture the new smartphone to the highest Nokia standards of quality and manufacturing
B) You bypass your own factory, and go sign a contract with Compal of Taiwan, who also make ‘highly successful’ and ‘popular’ smartphones for three less-than-spectacular smartphone brands… Motorola, HP/Palm and… Acer.
Question 12 - You are talking of ecosystems and with them, the importance of developers. You have two future options. Nokia’s 400,000 strong Symbian developer community has a decade-long history and your CTO built a migration path for the total Nokia developer community, via a set of tools called Qt, to arrive at MeeGo. The Qt tools can also be used to create apps for featurephones running Nokia S40 operating system, and to develop apps for other open Linux based platforms like.. Android. Your other future platform, Microsoft WP7 has no migration path from Symbian. It is not compatible with Qt and is not compatible in any way with Android’s vast army either. In fact, Microsoft cared so little for its past developers that even Microsoft’s own Windows Mobile developers do not have a migration path to WP7. Now you hear that the carriers have started a boycott of Microsoft WP7 but also that your resellers (and developers) love MeeGo. So you obviously
A) Announce a shift in the strategy, where MeeGo will be the center of your strategy, especially to support the strong Nokia developer community
B) Announce that even as MeeGo would be the best for Nokia’s existing developers and WP7 the worst, you will still insist on no more MeeGo devices, and the future will be all WP7, and effectively saying like this to your developer community: "screw you!"
Question 13 - You have to migrate your handsets away from your current operating system to a new one. You have made your selection in February and announced your primary new smartphone OS would be WP7. Since you announced your choice, the maker of that OS, Microsoft, has suddenly acquired the one branded service that your reseller chain ie the mobile operators/carriers hate: Skype. Because of this new acquisition the carriers/operators started a boycott of Microsoft in May of 2011, and the carriers are now telling you, they will never support Microsoft based smartphones. Your whole strategy has been torpedoed by your partner, Microsoft (something it was famous for doing to all of its previous telecoms partners like Sendo, Nortel, LG and Ericsson, every one of which left previous partnership attempt with Microsoft badly damaged if not bankrupt). Do you now
A) Announce you are shifting away from Microsoft because you listen to your reseller channel, the carriers, and you know they do not support this path (and because you have a credible replacement strategy in MeeGo)
B) Do you announce proudly that yes, Skype will be central to the Microsoft smartphone strategy by Nokia, to further anger the reseller channel and guarantee all Nokia phones will be boycotted not just on Symbian now, but also on WP7 in the future
Question 14 – You are the freshly-hired new CEO. You know your predecessor was fired for two reasons – one, his strategy of dumping prices led to the company arriving at the brink of making losses; and the share price crashed 55% over a 4 year period. Now you have been in charge for 9 months. The stock market rewarded your early actions of your first five months by raising share prices by 10%. But in the past 4 months, your actions have destroyed share value by another 52%. Do you now
A) Say you understand. Apologize. Reverse all of the actions of the past 4 months. Abandon Microsoft. And return to that strategy which worked so well in the first five months
B) Now adopt the same strategy of your doomed predecessor CEO with a massive price dump of 15% across the board to further accelerate the downward spiral of your share price and plummet the corporation into making ever bigger losses?
You can see the answers on the following page…
Key To Answers
The quiz is quite particular and some might say it is controversial even. There is something thought of as ‘old school’ management thinking that is based on the MBA (Master of Business Administration) teaching which tends to still taught in most misguided and obsolete business schools like Harvard and Yale and Oxford and Cambridge and Insead etc. That has become completely irrelevant in a new world of Microsoft.
There is a new management philosophy which supersedes the MBA, it is the MMA, The Microsoft Muppet Academy which is based on the teachings of grand guru and learned leader Steve Ballmer (The Grand Microsoft Master, the man who single-handedly conquered the whole smartphone world with ten years of Microsoft Windows Mobile; whose earth shattering Kin phones were the global hit, so popular they had to be withdrawn from sales in only six weeks; and the Microsoft Windows Phone 7 an operating system so powerful most of its handset makers are deserting the platform and the reseller channel is actively boycotting it). The head of the MMA is of course Stephen Elop the Learned, the sharpest knife in the cabinet, the quickest brain in the business and the smoothest operator of the whole universe of telecoms.
The newer Redmond Microsoft based learning’s taught at the Microsoft Muppet Academy tell us that the ecosystem is what decides who wins. But if you already have the bigger ecosystem like Symbian, then you have to of course terminate that, and replace it with the smallest and weakest ecosystem out there like WP7. The MMA teaches us that you have to care for your developers, but only so far, where you can then screw them so they don’t have a migration path, like Microsoft so kindly did in not offering migration from Windows Mobile to Phone 7 – and if you find an ecosystem which is open source and actually has a migration path like from Symbian to MeeGo, that has to be destroyed.
The MMA teaches us that you have to listen to the carriers, but only up to the point, that you know what will anger them the most – and then do only that. So it is not enough to find that the resellers are in boycott today. That is only step one. Then you have to listen to them so you can anger them more – so you find out they hate Dual SIM phones. So you can then tell them that yes, you’ll release dual SIM phones. Tell them you’ll give them West Coast designed phones like the Kin and the Razr and the Palm. And listen to them to find out what they hate more than you. When you discover that they hate something even more than the combination of Microsoft and Nokia, then go and embrace that additional part – Skype, insisting it will be integral to all Microsoft based Nokia phones.
There is the overwhelming logic of the Microsoft Muppet Academy, by which if you find something is so hated by the shareholders that they punish you with a declining market share, the correct response is of course to do even more of that. This is where Dick Cheney went astray and didn’t follow through. He didn’t ‘stay the course’. He was the surrender-monkey who didn’t ‘surge’. Its not enough that you go hunting with your friend, take a shotgun and shoot your friend.. in the face, the true Microsoft Muppet way is then not to apologize, but to reload, and shoot again.. your friend.. in the face.. and repeat, and repeat. This is the MMA way.
This is how Stephen Elop has run Nokia. February 2011. Burning Platforms (utter lies). Bam! Reload. Will end Symbian and go Microsoft. Bam! Reload. Will not do MeeGo. Bam! Reload. Kill migration path for developer community. Bam! Reload. Carriers in sales boycott. Fine. I’ll do Dual SIM. Bam! Reload. Didn’t like that? Fine. We’ll do Skype also. Double-barrel Bam! Reload. What? Now you have Microsoft WP7 also in boycott? No problem. We will still do WP7, with Skype, even with the boycott. Bam! Reload. And the N9 is a hit phone? Won’t be long. Fake leaks? Let me show you the new WP7 phone, please you tech bloggers, don’t go showing pictures of it, eh? Bam! Reload. MeeGo still desirable? Go ahead punk. Do you feel lucky? You want MeeGo? I’ll show you ‘mee-go’ here: Bam! Reload. You want the N9 with MeeGo in a major Nokia market like the UK or Germany or India or Brazil. I won’t give it to you. Bam! Reload. Most of the countries where it will be sold will be teeny-weeny lilliput countries so it can’t achieve big sales. Bam! Reload. And if by some chance, the N9 is still a hit phone, I won’t release more MeeGo phones anyway. Bam! Reload. Bam! Reload. Share price crashing? No problem. I’ll now slash Nokia smartphone prices 15%. Bam! Reload.
(I worry what comes tomorrow. I mean. 15% price cut? This IS what got OPK fired by the Board. How utterly incompetent a fool is he, Stephen Elop the Microsoft Muppet)
Nokia Board! Time to fire Stephen Elop. He is singlehandedly destroying your company. You are incompetent Board Members if you let him continue destroying the company like this. It is clear Stephen Elop will face a lawsuit for deliberate, wanton destruction of Nokia value. Soon you, Board Members, if you don’t act fast, are also going to be sued for incompetence for letting Elop ruin your company. Do not wait anymore! Fire him now! Time to act is NOW!