By Geraldine Willigan, MBA

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. Click here to download the case and teaching notes.

Note:  This case was prepared by Geraldine Willigan, MBA, former editor at Harvard Business Review, under supervision of Ram Charan, Ph.D., former faculty member at Harvard Business School, winner of best teacher award at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and a regular teacher in executive programs across the globe. The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of Juha Akras, Ian Gee, Antti Miettinen, Arja Souminen, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, Hallstein Moerk, Tero Ojanperä and Shiv Shivakumar.