Delivery by Default

A dozen years ago in my first presentation to an audience of senior civil servants, drawn from across the whole of what was then the Inland Revenue, I put up this slide:

The quote at the bottom was drawn from a memo that had crossed my desk reporting on progress on a major programme that the department had underway.  I was struck, dumbstruck even, by the leack of certainty both in being “into its stride” and “the autumn”.  The slide – with its animation – became widely known in the department as the “falling leaves” slide.

So I certainly chuckled when I saw in the action summary for the Civil Service Reform initiative:

By autumn we will have a cross-Civil Service
capabilities plan that identifies what skills are missing and how gaps
will be filled.

By autumn the Cabinet Office will have completed a review with
departments to see what further examples of change in delivery models
can be implemented this Parliament

I then read @pubstrat’s thinking on bowler hats and was drawn to remember another slide deck from around the same time:

The road to reform is long, winding and very challenging.  Countless companies – with access to the very best talent – have failed at it (whether that be Nokia, Kodak, Comet or any other company that has gone to the wall or is about to).  Government’s very security is that it is around forever without competition.
The road from plan to execution – from talking to delivering – is also long, winding and challenging.  And execution allows you to measure what has been done; talking doesn’t.
I’ve uploaded both of the source decks to my profile page on slideshare. [Testing that link, it looks like slideshare has a problem right now.  They say it will be fixed shortly]

Twenty Years Of Nokia Phones

A picture paints a thousand words.  And here’s a picture of a thousand phones – from an interesting Wired article on Nokia.
One word leaps to mind though when I look at the picture – #fail.  The phones highlighted in green are the ones I used to own.  From 1992 to 2003, I owned a dozen Nokias.  From 2003 to 2012, precisely none.  Over a ten year period when their portfolio roughly quadrupled in size (just from this picture), they sold none to me. And they still aren’t selling to me.
On a day when they announce a further 10,000 job losses – bringing the total to 40,000 – as well as the sale of 90% of Vertu (see my Prescription), it’s sad to look back and see a company that once dominated the market continuing to fail.   Nokia’s own Kodak moment continues on a very slow exposure (note: I still believe Nokia will survive, propped up by Microsoft’s absolute need for a partner in mobile but there is still plenty of trouble ahead).

Nokia / Research In Motion Update

I wanted to take another look at how Nokia and RIMM are doing.  The graph below shows their stock prices compared over the last 3 years – the candlesticks are RIMM, the brown line Nokia.  I’ve annotated the chart with just a few key events – Nokia in orange, RIMM in black (of course), Apple in green.
The two stocks have largely tracked each other over the period, with both down about 85%.  That’s a staggering loss of value:
In December 2007, Nokia was worth $150bn and RIMM worth $64bn
In June 2012, Nokia is worth $9.8bn and RIMM is valued at $5bn.
That’s $199bn of value gone in less than 5 years (though Facebook is certainly trying to make a dent in that value loss over as little as 4 weeks)
I wrote up my “prescription” for Nokia in March last year, not long Stephen Elop had made the decision to go with Windows. I didn’t write a similar prescription for RIMM.
From here, I see Nokia surviving – without Nokia, Microsoft’s mobile strategy is dead in the water. Maybe Microsoft will buy them or, more likely, maybe they will keep pumping money into them to help them deliver.  The Lumia is a good first effort (though they should have thrown them away and started again as I suggested), but it it’s far from enough when compared with the latest Galaxy from Samsung or the iPhone 4S let alone what’s coming next.  They still need to do more – get rid of NSN, embed new features in their phones, make some smart acquisitions, cut more people (sadly) and so on – but it’s achievable.
But RIMM is, I think, done.  They have no one to save them.  They are still to get their product transition going to the new o/s (and Nokia is down over half since even starting that process).  Microsoft, Nokia and all of the other rumoured buyers won’t step in for RIMM – they don’t want blackberries.  Perhaps a PE company will step in and run the company for cash, but that would be a lot like buying Nokia’s Symbian business – it’s declining fast, faster than most (including me) expected.  To turn them around from here, even with the relatively large cash pile that they have, just doesn’t seem likely.

[Insert Number] Days/Weeks/Months [Strike As Appropriate] To Save The Euro

George Soros is widely quoted today as saying there are only three months to save the Euro.

I have no idea whether he is right or wrong.  In fact, I have no better idea than the next man.  And it turns out the next man is full of ideas, all different.

6 weeks: In September 2011, George Osborne thought we had only six weeks to save it.

10 days: At the end of November last year, a leading EU monetary chief thought we had only ten days.

2 days: In December, some commentators thought we had as little as two days to make the save.

The one thing we know about predictions is that if you keep predicting something, it will eventually become true.  Except when the prediction is wrong.