answered: As you read and study the Nokia case, consider the following questions:1. Why did company managemen

  • As you read and study the Nokia case, consider the following questions:1. Why did company management choose values as a foundation for taking the culture to the next level?
    2. What is your view about the four values the café approach produced?
    3. How do Nokia’s values compare with those of your company? (or compare with Google’s “Ten things we know to be true”)
    4. How will Nokia’s values help execute the change in business strategy?
    5. Concisely define the behaviors that were stimulated through the café approach at Nokia. What information channels got opened?
    6. What’s your evaluation of the social process for engaging thousands of employees across the globe in defining the values?
    7. What does Nokia’s café process say about its senior leaders?
    8. If Nokia were to use the café process again this year, what change in values would you anticipate?
  • Module 7 Reflection
    Module 7 ReflectionDrawing upon the Nokia case and the material we have covered so far in this course, in AT LEAST 500 words describe:How can HR influence strategy execution through culture? Be sure to use examples from the Nokia case as well as what we have discussed already in this course including strategy, evidence-based management, and HR transformation as appropriate.

© 2009 Society for Human resource Management. Geraldine Willigan, MBa 1

Nokia: Values That Make
a Company Global

In the summer of 2006, the global competitive landscape in which Nokia was
operating was changing at an astoundingly fast pace. Market growth was shifting
to emerging countries, mobile devices were being commoditized, handset prices
were declining, networks were combining (Nokia had just merged its own networks
infrastructure business with that of Siemens, forming Nokia Siemens Networks,
or NSN), Microsoft and Apple were making moves toward mobile devices, new
technologies were being developed, and new strategic opportunities were arising as
mobile phones were becoming the gateway to the Internet.

To win in such a fast-paced and intensely competitive environment, the company had
to move with speed and do a superb job of satisfying consumers. Decision-making
would have to occur at the lowest possible level to reflect the peculiarities of the local
markets while leveraging the power of Nokia’s diverse people, its brand, its financial
resources, and its technology and design expertise. Collaboration between locals and
headquarters and among multiple cultures and partners was paramount.

Nokia conducted extensive interviews with people inside and outside the company,
including partners and suppliers, to understand how Nokia was perceived and how it
might have to change. That research informed a number of actions and renewed the
focus on Nokia’s culture and, in particular, its values.

From Paper Mill to Conglomerate to Global Brand
Nokia, headquartered in Espoo, near Helsinki, Finland, is the world’s largest mobile
handset manufacturer. It holds some 40 percent of the global device market as of
the second quarter of 2008. It operates in 150 countries and had more than 117,000
employees, including NSN, as of late June 2008. It is the top-rated brand globally.
Annual revenues for 2007 were $74.6 billion (51.1 billion euros).

The company began in the late 1800s as a paper mill, then evolved into a diversified
industrial company and was an early entrant in the mobile era in the 1980s. In the
1990s, CEO Jorma Ollila restructured the conglomerate to focus on mobile phones
and telecommunications, and Nokia became the technology and market leader,
starting first in Europe, then expanding to the United States and dozens of other

2 © 2009 Society for Human resource Management. Geraldine Willigan, MBa

developed and emerging economies, including China and India. In the early 2000s,
Nokia was briefly challenged by Motorola and Samsung but was able to maintain and
soon to increase the lead.

In 2006, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo (OPK, as he is known at Nokia) became CEO.
Nokia’s strategy at that time was changed to cover both the mobile device market as
well as services and software. In 2007, Nokia announced that it would become more
like an Internet company.

Transforming the Culture for the New Challenges
As Nokia’s leaders pondered what would hold people together and enhance
collaboration and speed across their large global company, they arrived at an
answer—culture, of which values had long been a foundation. Values align people’s
hearts and emotional energy and define how Nokia employees (“Nokians”) do
business with each other and the rest of the world. Because Nokia’s existing values
had been unchanged for more than a decade and research showed there was some
ambivalence about them internally, the executive board, comprised of the CEO and
about a dozen senior leaders, decided it was time to re-examine the values. OPK
selected a team of people to create a process for doing so. The challenge to the team
was to get all the people of Nokia intellectually engaged. In keeping with Nokia’s
culture, the values would have to be the result of “the many” communicating with
“the many.”

Assigning this task was not trivial. It required that senior management be committed
to live with the outcome. The values that emerged from the bottom up would have
to be taken seriously and stick—or the organization would be seriously harmed.

As the team got to work and explored the options, they determined that the best
approach would be to combine high tech and high touch. The high-tech part of the
values-creation process would be through the “Nokia Jam”—using IBM’s Jamming
technology that would allow all Nokians to engage in an online dialogue. The high-
touch part would come through the use of the World Café methodology.

The World Café methodology had sprung up in the mid 1990s to accommodate a
large group of people from diverse disciplines and far-flung locations around the
world who wanted to discuss issues of common interest.2 That group was known as
the Intellectual Capital Partners. To create an informal conversation among so many
people, participants were divided into small groups seated around tables to discuss
a given question. The groups would then repeatedly disperse and individuals would
rotate to other tables, so ideas were disseminated, cross-pollinated and combined. As
the conversations continued, facilitators compiled the ideas that emerged.

The World Café methodology had been used in some small pockets within Nokia
but had never been tried on a companywide scale. The concept was right, but it was
impractical for all 50,000-plus Nokians to directly engage in a dialogue. So the idea
emerged to have a subset of people from across Nokia get together to discuss Nokia
values with a totally clean slate, as if they were recreating Nokia on the planet Mars.

© 2009 Society for Human resource Management. Geraldine Willigan, MBa 3

A trip to Mars became the metaphor for assembling a cross-section of Nokians to
participate in the World Café format and create the new values.

Nokia’s Trip to Mars
Nokia produced 5,000 elegant, visually exciting invitations that looked like boarding
passes and airline tickets. These were sent in bundles through snail mail to people
at various organizational levels and functional areas, including HR, in each of the
business units. The instruction to the recipients was to find a way to randomly
distribute their bundle to people in their offices and factories whom they would trust
to have a discussion about Nokia’s values and culture. The recipients could also keep
a ticket for themselves.

Each ticket was in a “wallet” that described what Nokia was doing. It stated the
current values and gave instructions for how to proceed, first by going to the Nokia
Way web site to learn more and to register for a café in their local area. Participants
also got two luggage tags, which they were supposed to discuss with their colleagues
beforehand: a green one, which represented the values or ideas Nokia should be sure
to take with it as the company moved forward, and a gray one, for things that could
be left behind.

Nokia held 16 cafés in 60 days around the world. More than 100 employees
representing a cross-section of Nokia attended each one. The day of the café, small
groups discussed a predetermined set of questions. One person served as host and
stayed at the table while everyone else rotated to other tables, eventually returning to
their original spots. People had taken the preparation very seriously and interviewed
their teams ahead of time; some brought stacks of paper with various notes and

As the discussions took place, ideas began to emerge and converge. Facilitators
captured them graphically and in written scripts. The outputs from each café were
then uploaded to the Nokia Way web site, and everyone at Nokia had access to it and
was invited to comment. Several thousand more employees were able to participate
in the dialogue through the means of the web site, giving their opinions and making
suggestions and sometimes asking questions they hoped the next café would address.
The sessions were also videotaped and edited into short video blogs that were so
funny and engaging that they logged approximately 30,000 visits. The video blogs,
too, elicited comments from fellow Nokians.

The mix of people attending the cafés was just what Nokia’s executive team had
hoped for: an assortment of people from offices and factories and from every
functional area and organizational level. The café process allowed those diverse
viewpoints to be heard. Engineers said Nokia needed greater tolerance for risk, for
instance, while marketing people wanted more stability. In the process, it broke
down biases and misconceptions and began to build social bonds. “Latin Americans
were not the only people with emotions!” one participant commented. Another
said: “At first it felt like I couldn’t even find a common language with my Mexican

4 © 2009 Society for Human resource Management. Geraldine Willigan, MBa

marketing colleagues in Nokia. It was exciting when we found a common language
and vision, and everybody was on board.”

As the cafés took place, four values began to emerge. These were to be presented
to the top 30 leaders at the final global café to be held in Helsinki. But instead of
writing them on a PowerPoint slide, the values were presented in a way that was
experiential. Representatives from each of the Nokia Way cafés were chosen to
attend, and on day one of the Helsinki café, they got together and brainstormed how
to make the values come alive. They recreated some of the skits, songs and visual aids
their local cafés had generated to express the thoughts and feelings that underlay the
values. The representatives from the Finnish cafés built a bird’s nest and a sauna in
the hotel meeting room to represent Nokia’s passion for innovation (the bird’s nest
was for the hatching of ideas, the sauna to represent the fire of passion).

The next day, the group made their presentation to the senior leaders, and after
some discussion, the four values that had came out of the café process were affirmed.
OPK, who, like many Finnish people, was ordinarily quite reserved, was visibly
moved by the intensity and sincerity of the feelings expressed. He felt as though he
could hear the voices of Nokians around the world, and he, too, wholeheartedly
supported the values. He asked that a representative present them to a group of 150
top leaders that was meeting three or four weeks later as part of the annual Strategy
Sharing process.

The group selected Ganeas Dorairaju, a native Malaysian who had been working in
Finland for the past decade, to represent them. He stood in front of the top leaders
and explained the values and the process by which they were created. At the end
of it, the audience gave him a standing ovation. One leader wondered if the values
could be turned into a catchy tune. Soon after, an employee teamed up with her
husband and did just that!

Nokia’s New Values3

Nokia’s new values and the explanation of them are as follows:

achieving together. n Achieving together is more than collaboration and
partnership. As well as trust, it involves sharing, the right mind-set and working in
formal and informal networks.

engaging You. n For us, ‘engaging you’ incorporates the customer satisfaction value
and deals with engaging all our stakeholders, including employees, in what Nokia
stands for in the world.

Passion for Innovation. n Passion for innovation is based on a desire we have to
live our dreams, to find our courage and to make the leap into the future through
innovation in technology, ways of working and through understanding the world
around us.

Very Human. n Being very human encompasses what we offer customers, how we
do business, how we work together, and the impact of our actions and behavior on

© 2009 Society for Human resource Management. Geraldine Willigan, MBa 5

people and the environment. It is about being very human in the world—making
things simple, respecting and caring. In short, our desire is to be a very human

The world café process generated values that are different and more open-ended
than most companies’. As leaders at Nokia note, the values require discussion. People
might not know right away what “very human” means, but once people start to
discuss it within the context of Nokia, it becomes very clear. People do, in fact, have
those discussions. They use them to say, “Hold on a minute, is this engaging you?
Are we meeting that value in what we’re doing?” ‘Very Human’ is closely associated
with technology; it reflects the fact that Nokia has to develop devices that are easy
to use. And ‘Achieving Together’ is about customers and suppliers as well as fellow
Nokia employees. ‘Achieving Together’ also helps remove the fear associated with
being an industry pioneer.

The values are aspirational but also model what was already working well at Nokia.
In India, for instance, where Nokia has built a dominant market position of some
75 million subscribers in a very short time, the values were evident before they had
been articulated, which likely influenced the input of the three cafés conducted
in that country. One of the key factors that drove business success in India was
the distribution system, which Nokia and its business partner, ATL, built from
scratch when large consumer electronics retailers declined to carry mobile phones
because of their low margins. Working together to find an alternative, Nokia and
ATL hit on the idea to mimic the small (sometimes just 5 x 5 feet) kiosks that are
found in villages across India from which vendors sell fruits and vegetables. They
recruited individuals interested in running their own kiosks, trained them and
ensured they would have products in the right quantities and at the right margins
for those vendors to make a living. The Nokia team wanted to be sure that whatever
arrangement they designed would benefit Nokia, ATL and the individual mobile
phone vendors. That way, they would Achieve Together.

The Nokia team in India—a mix of native Indians and technology and other experts
from such far-flung Nokia locations as Finland, China and Indonesia—collaborated
in listening to and observing people in various parts of India to understand their
needs. Their approach was collaborative and Very Human. As a member of the
leadership team in Nokia India explains, “One thing that Nokia prides itself on is
that it is not arrogant. That comes across in every interaction. People never take for
granted that they know everything.” Because of conditions in parts of the country,
Indians needed a mobile device that was dustproof and didn’t slip out of sweaty
hands. They wanted a device that could be an alarm clock, radio and flashlight (or
“torch”) as well as a phone. Nokia’s Passion for Innovation drove the team to find
the technology solutions Indians needed.

Nokia found that the process of creating values itself had merit. It allowed the many
to connect with the many and demonstrated that heterarchy was more important
than hierarchy. It captured Nokia employees’ understanding of the challenges they
were facing personally and organizationally and their desire to create an organization

6 © 2009 Society for Human resource Management. Geraldine Willigan, MBa

that could meet them. It also reflected the spirit of bonding across cultures,
functions and silos. As a member of the executive team says, “It is proof that a strong
global corporate culture is possible.”

The next order of business was to track the effectiveness of the values. To that end,
the company has created a number of vehicles. Nokia includes values in its annual
employee survey, “Listening to You,” and made them a key part of the change
pulse survey it undertook during a recent reorganization. The suggestion arose to
have pictures to demonstrate the new values, so the company staged an employee
competition for photos that represent the values. Photos were posted online, and
employees voted for their favorite. The top prize went to a quality manager in one of
Nokia’s Chinese factories, who got to accompany Nokia’s brand people on a photo
shoot in Paris. Given the quality of Nokia’s artistic skills, it was a choice prize. More
than 22,000 employees took part in the competition, and Nokia has a rich bank
of photographs to represent the new values. Nokians now are learning to create
90-second films that tell how values are making a difference in their work. These
films can be uploaded to a video hub where fellow employees can view them. As of
October 2008, more than 60 films had been uploaded to the internal VideoHub,
and they have had over 50,000 viewings.

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