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 SkypeQuestion 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 NokiaQuestion 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.
- 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
- 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)
- 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"
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!"
- 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 futureQuestion 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...
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