Disconnecting, people…

I imagine this will have been obvious for quite some time now to most anyone who cares, but as of the end of this month I’ll no longer be working at Nokia.

Despite the brave, concerted efforts of a great many highly talented people, my two years at Nokia House have been very, very difficult — so difficult, indeed, that it’s become hard for me to reconstruct now the bases of the optimism with which I began the adventure.

I haven’t quite decided whether I’m going to write up a comprehensive post-mortem, or just let things be and move on. As the alert might have inferred from yesterday’s piece on App Inventor, I’ve been thinking a good deal lately about Doug Bowman’s farewell to Google, and whether or not anything constructive came in the aftermath of that. It’s hard for me to tell, amidst the sound and fury the piece generated in the relevant circles, whether Google or, indeed, Doug himself learned anything useful from the controversy, and that’s going to be my threshold in deciding whether or not I have anything public to say about my experience.

I do think there are useful things I might say about Nokia, and how it might address the situation in which it now finds itself, but I’m far from convinced that anything I say would make any difference at all. Above all, what I fear is that anything I write would be counterproductive for my friends who remain inside, fighting the good fight. And, to be honest, the perception that my motivations in writing would be self-serving or self-exculpatory.

For now, let me just say that far and away the best part of working at Nokia has been the opportunity to meet and work alongside literally dozens of brilliant, beautiful, funny, super-capable people — so very many that I daren’t start listing names in an attempt to be comprehensive, lest I overlook someone awesome. It’s weak sauce to say so, but you know who you are…and I only hope you know how much I appreciate and admire you all.

Nurri and I have our hands full over the next few months, wrangling an intercontinental move, getting some travel in, and cooking up new Do projects goodness for you. There are also some other things I’m working on that I suspect you’ll be very, very interested to hear about. More about all of that in due season.

The thought I want to leave you with is that for all the disappointment I feel when I consider the missed opportunities of these last two years, I actually have no regrets. I’ve learned some very valuable lessons about my own personal strengths and weaknesses, how and how not to organize efforts so they have a chance of success. And hey: we got to live in Helsinki for two glorious summers, made a ton of amazing friends, and enjoyed some experiences we never would have had we stayed in New York. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with any of that. Now: we throttle up and prepare for Go.

15 responses to “Disconnecting, people…”

  1. Jorge Arango says :

    Best wishes as you start this new phase! Looking forward to seeing what’s next.

  2. Jyri Engestrom says :

    As a friend it’s been hard to watch you grit your teeth for two years. And even though your situation’s unique, having worked at both of the corps you name in this post, I can identify with some of the facets of your frustration. I challenge you to publish that post-mortem. So what if it doesn’t change anything. People can smell rotten fish a hundred feet away, and everybody who cares to look can see your employer (for a couple more weeks) has been on a rampage to destroy their own core assets. A rampage that could go down as one of the most regrettable corporate hara-kiris of all time. Contributing thoughts on what the problems are could still save Nokia from becoming another Yahoo.

  3. Andrew says :

    Going into my fifth year at Amazon, I still find myself just barely understanding how and why Things Get Done at a big corporation. I’d love to see if how much of what you ran into at Nokia was unique and what’s built in to big companies.

  4. Peter Boersma says :

    Sad to see you leave Europe but glad to hear you enjoyed Helsinki. And yes, we are curious what the next steps will be, thank you ;-)

    If your travel takes you through Amsterdam, please stop by for a Rochefort.

  5. Dave says :

    I remember your visit to my office right at the start of this adventure, I remember the visions we talked about and the ambitions you had, and I’m very regretful that they could not come to pass here and now. I’d also like to see you write the post-mortem. I think (hope) the difference between Nokia and Google’s respective fortunes might make the former more amenable to well intentioned criticism. On a personal note, we’ll be sorry for ourselves to see you leave of course, but we’re happy for you that you’re moving on to more fulfilling endeavours!

  6. AG says :

    You’re on! I should be in A’dam for PICNIC in September. : . )

  7. Abe says :

    Best of luck moving on.

    For the post-mortem, I’d say there is less of a question of whether you should write it, and more about whether to publish. There is no question it’ll have personal value if written, and historical value if published at some later date. It’s just whether it’s worth publishing now. On that I’d lean towards no, you’ll likely burn some bridges and if you couldn’t change things on the inside it’s doubtful that one piece of writing will suddenly change things around… I’d say write it, sit on it and let it out a year or two down the road.

  8. Soo says :

    Good luck with the next (ad)venture! Wishing the evolution of more books from whatever you do.

  9. brady forrest says :

    Congratulations. I look forward to seeing what you do next.

  10. Sami Kallinen says :

    I say publish, as i am sure it would be done in earnest. Could imagine it would be of value not only to Nokia, but to thousands of other people working at large organisations that are struggling with similar problems that you were at Nokia (the particulars of which i personally know very little about). A large organisation starts to live by its own logic and principles that has nothing to do with what they actually should be doing. Nokia has had three or even five years to reinvent itself, and i am sure thousands of people at the company have been painfully aware of it all along, probably including the people at the very top. I am sure there have been hundreds of projects with the ambition to do something about it. But the wheels keep on turning and some bandage is applied a little here and a little there. To write about your experiences might not change the course of the company, but it might increase awarness of these problems. Which is a good thing for us all.

  11. Sami Niemelä says :

    Definitely a post mortem. You deserve it, and so does the world.

  12. Lepe says :

    Your post-mortem could well serve as a valuable address in the academic discussion on large corporations, be it from the vantage point of organizational philosophy, sociology or any other similar field. I believe it could really reveal something about the period we live in (also acting as a reminder later on) and the way corporations work from an insider/outsider point of view, something that hundreds of thousands have to deal with on a daily basis. I trust that you have what it takes to provide an honest, accurate and nonviolent portrayal of what went on and the context it’s set in.

    Thanks for being there, thanks for the laughs. How lucky I was in the desk roulette when joining myself!

  13. Jim Meredith says :

    Best of luck, Adam. We’ll watch for your influence as you move into new ventures.

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