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RIM/Blackberry's shareholders and customers should be scared.  They are watching a train wreck happen in slow motion.  This is a company that is in trouble.  It has been out-innovated by its competitors.  It has failed to keep its network up and running on a consistent basis.  No matter how they spin it, the sudden switch to a new CEO is a discontinuous event.  In light of that, I found Thorsten Heins' answer yesterday to Barclay Analyst Jeffrey Kvaal's question about what Thorsten planned to "take a look at" in his first 100 days terrifying.

His answer, included below in its entirety from the Seeking Alpha transcript of the call was essentially,

  1. Market communication to be more marketing-driven and consumer-oriented
  2. Execution to scale hardware, software and services and sales forces processes and put more discipline in product development.

Really?  That's what he thinks is most important?  Nothing about relooking at the culture and context of his organization?  Nothing about managing his change message within the organization?  Nothing about strengthening his team and improving RIM's strategic, and organizational practices?  It's hard to believe that this company can be turned around by tweaking its operating/execution processes.

As talked about in my article in Forbes yesterday, Why RIM's New CEO Needs to Change the Platform for Change, Heins needs to change the platform for change and get his company pointed in the right direction again.  Trimming the sails to get a little more speed in the wrong direction is counter-productive.  Heins needs to take a hard look at hitting the restart button and get back to onboarding basics:

  1. Get a head start on an entirely new new leader's 100-day action plan by really understanding what's going on and the root problems.
  2. Manage his message with his critical stakeholders both externally and internally
  3. Rebuild his team to deal with their new reality.

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From Seeking Alpha's transcript of RIM's 23-January-2012 call:

Jeffrey T. Kvaal – Barclays Capital, Research Division

This is Jeff. Thorsten, I'm wondering could you help us a bit go into detail on which processes you think might be best for you to take a look at in your first 100 days or so? What are some of the changes that you think are important for RIM to be making in order to position yourself well for the next decade as you suggest?

Thorsten Heins

Yes, happy to answer that question. I already, in the opening remarks, hinted towards our market communication. For sure, we have a very, very strong technology heritage, we have a strong customer base and enterprise and we're growing really strong globally in Asia Pac, Middle East, Africa, Europe. The U.S. is a bit different. The U.S., we were very, very successful coming from the core enterprise business. And in the public opinion, this is still where we're skewed to. So one process we really will put a lot of energy and effort in is really our market communication. We need to be more marketing-driven, we need to be more consumer-oriented because this is where a lot of our growth is coming from. That is essentially in the U.S. you see the first event that we're on, this was the Be Bold campaign that we just recently launched at New Year's eve at the ABC show. And we need to engage more with the consumer base with all these 75 million and more customers out there that love BlackBerry, and we need to take them with us on the journey of exploring BlackBerry in for the future. So that is one, the entire marketing communication and go-to-market plan. The other element that I want to look in is more in the execution area. We've done a lot since I assumed responsibility, I think it was 10 months ago, for product and sales, which in RIM's definition, is hardware, software and services and the sales forces. And we have to scale these processes further. Resource planning, rigid project management, rigid program management and also the process of defining a product and then executing on a product. You got to understand that RIM has gone through a tremendous growth phase and scaled really tremendously fast and successful, I would say. But we innovated while we were developing the product, and that needs to stop, right? We need to innovate, don't get me wrong, but we will do this now with much more emphasis on prototyping, concepting. We have great teams that can try stuff out. But when we say a product is defined and a product is a product, execution has to be really, really precise and decisively and no churn in existing development programs. And I think if we execute on these 2 things, we will be doing even better in the future and you will see way better execution on RIM's side. You never are perfect, you always strive to get to perfection, but I'm pretty sure that this will really help us a lot and help our customer base a lot.

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