Open Letter To A Failing Company

I have lost confidence.

While I hide it at work, my passion has been sapped. I know I am not alone — the sentiment is widespread and it includes people within your own teams.

That’s how the letter started out. It went on to spell out with surgical precision, what is wrong about the company, its leadership, and its culture.

The letter was written by an anonymous employee working for Research In Motion (RIM) – the company behind Blackberry. Once the clear leader in corporate and government mobile messaging, the company has fallen behind competitors such as Apple (iPhone), Google (Android), and even Microsoft (Windows Mobile, or whatever it is called). The letter was sent to tech blog, Boy Genius Report, who after confirming that the sender was indeed an actual employee, published it. The letter has captured the attention and imagination of the entire tech world.

This letter is a call to action, not a statement of condemnation. Why wasn’t this just handled internally through the appropriate channels? As the author of the letter explains, those channels are closed. The company’s leadership is averse to feedback. Perhaps most importantly, the company leadership is averse to feedback from customers.

Five years ago, you would have to pry a Blackberry from the cold dead hands of a typical user. The devices were affectionately called Crackberries, because users were so addicted to their devices. The unique thumbwheel used for navigating through messages resulted in a common repetitive stress injury that was dubbed “Blackberry thumb.” In the last several years, users have begged the company to provide them with something that can compete with the iPhone. But RIM did not listen.

What is clear, especially based on reactions from the tech community, is that RIM is on the verge of failing in the marketplace. Without dramatic and sweeping changes, the company is doomed. Yet within the ranks of that company, are dedicated and loyal employees that are fully capable of the innovation and drive that led RIM to such great success. The leadership just needs to allow that to happen.

The full letter can be found here:

Open letter to BlackBerry bosses: Senior RIM exec tells all as company crumbles around him

RIM’s woefully inadequate response to the letter can be found here:

RIM responds to open letter published by BRG

What’s The Point?

The most valuable asset that any company has, are those employees who have such an emotional investment in the success of the company, that they want nothing more than to see the firm succeed. The raw passion that these employees bring to the job cannot be outsourced, won’t be found in new hires or by headhunters. Left uncultivated and unrecognized, it leads to entropy.

Good luck RIM. You’re going to need it.