Nokia CEO to Staff: We Are "Standing on a 'Burning Platform'"

The Story

In a message to employees, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop compares the company's situation to that of a man on an oil platform in the North Sea. The man, like Nokia, needs to take the plunge into icy water in order to survive. Elop may be preparing employees for major changes expected to be announced on Friday. The speech (which became an intranet post) presents a grim picture of Nokia's position in the smartphone market: "We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time." While the speech is fairly negative, Elop also encourages employees: "But, I believe that together, we can face the challenges ahead of us. Together, we can choose to define our future."

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop
Discussion Starters

  • Read Elop's message to employees. If you were a Nokia employee, how do you think you would react to this? 
  • What parts of Elop's message most inspired you? Did any parts depress you or cause you to doubt the company's future?

Assignment Ideas

  • Analyze Elop's speech for persuasive techniques. How does Elop use principles discussed in Chapter 7? Write a memo to your instructor to illustrate your analysis.
  • Try to write another version of Elop's speech. What analogy could you use that might work as well or better?