According to Engadget, RIM received an 'open letter' from an disgruntled employee.  I won't speculate on whether the letter really was from a disgruntled employee or whether it was appropriate to post if it was - there's plenty of speculation in the comments. What interests me are the talking points from the letter and what takeaways might be applied to any company, mine or yours, large or small.

Let's take a look:

Focus on the End User experience

Apple raised the bar here and they raised it high. End users want to feel good about the tools they use. And so they should, it makes for happier more productive users. End users don't care about technology platforms - they care about how a product makes them feel about themselves, the benefit they get from the product, and yes - whether it's shiny or not.

Recruit Senior Software Leaders and enable decision-making

While this advice is important to organizations of any size, it's critical for large organizations to have teams that work well together with clear leadership. This leadership needs to extend to customer communication as well. Decision-making needs to be placed with the people that can have the greatest impact or at least consider these people in the process. New styles of management, including one I recently learned about: Holacracy appear to be an interesting way to help enable better decision-making across the organization.

Cut projects to the bone

To me this means, "choose your battles carefully". It's hard to fight on many fronts and do it well. Don't try to be all things to all people. Find a core competency and do it really well.

Developers, not Carriers, can now make or break us

Lots of ways to read into this, but I'm not going to draw conclusions about any companies I know. Let's simply say that the app store model has a place in many product strategies. Users and developers want to be involved, they want to contribute, they want to share what they have done and they want to profit by it. Give them a venue to do that and a community can thrive. Lock them down and they will find another way (or another product). I think back to the days of VisiCalc, SuperCalc, Lotus-123, and Excel. These products thrived because they met a need and anyone with a small degree of effort could create a solution with it and share it with others. We would not have seen this level of innovation if these tools had been locked down, read only. Can you think of other platforms/environments where this holds true?


Need for serious marketing punch to create end user desire

It's one thing to have (or think you have) a great product. It's another thing to get that message out there coherently and consistently. As a small business manager, I cringe as I write this because I can think of so many things we can and should do better. The fact of the matter is a solid "demand generation" strategy is an important part of any business plan. Marketing focuses on what the company wants to tell its customers so they will want their product or service. The company is in the center. Demand generation looks places the customer in the center of the picture and figures out what drives the customer, how they feel, how they want to feel, and how they find ways to feel even better. By acknowledging the emotional side of the buying process it's possible to create a rational approach to promoting the product - one that end users will want to be a part of. Marketing is essential. Marketing that connects with people is effective.

No accountability - Canadians are too nice

Responsibility without authority is futile. Responsibility without accountability is unpredictable. (There's also some truth in the second part of this point. I have many Canadian friends and they are too nice people.)

Don't snap at the press, now is the time for humility with a dash of paranoia

OK, I'll start. There were two reasons I decided to blog about this. First, it hits home with several of the developer and business partner ecosystems I'm currently a part of. (I'm not naming names because I want to focus on the lessons to be learned. It's easy to throw stones at glass houses.) More important to me, I see places in my own organization where we can benefit from consideration of these points.

Democratise. Engage and interact with your employees -- please!

I know from my own experience that this is challenging enough to do in a small organization. It's measurably harder in a large one or a distributed one or a multinational one. Employees are like customers. They choose where they work. They want to feel good about the work that they do and they want to believe in the company and its leadership.

How will RIM respond?

I don't know what lessons will be learned or the impact this letter will have on RIMs leadership. The PR folks have already responded with a PR response. I'm not sure they could say much more publicly.

More important, how will YOU and I respond?

That's the real purpose of this blog post. I do hope that anyone that chooses to take the time to reflect on these points gets value from them and can apply them to their own work. I can already see opportunities for improvment.

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