Nokia People

Connecting Humanity

Sampsa: Out of Nokia’s values came my own business

My first entrance to Nokia was Oulu’s Special Products unit in 1997, which was a great place to learn the spirit of handcrafted product making.

It was one of those Nokia R&D units full of hackers and makers.Another pivotal moment was my move to NRC in 2008. This was driven by my desire to learn user and design driven development. Finally, as many of you, I left Nokia after the Mobile Phones acquisition by the Microsoft was completed. It was no longer my cup of tea.

So, besides the great technological learning and my super nice wife, what do I have with me from 16 years at Nokia?

Joyful learning

Perhaps the most profound lesson is the value of values. Those programs and teams with freedom to learn and fail were the often the most successful. Curiously enough this has later been proven by Google’s data driven team-research.

The best and golden memories are exactly those on learning and on the joy of resolving complex issues together with amazing experts. Then there is the joy of following the press after a product launch. I do hope every ex-nokian can relate to that feeling.

Nokia was great also on educating and mentoring people. From my supervising mentors I had the pleasure to learn many life long lessons, such as hands-on and practical leadership demonstrating the value of teamwork to fresh junior members, or to learn from a supervisor who was excellent at creating a safe space for everyone to fail and learn. Yet another of my great mentors was patient in educating me about the importance of strategic technology management. Finally, I will always be grateful for all the mentoring on user and design driven development.

This mentality of talented artisan experts with the courage to not know, and to be humble, made an everlasting impact on me.

Nokia values

Quite recently I dived into the art of self-organized teams and lean startup. It has been amazing to realize how smart the 1990’s organization setup was at Nokia. Product programs were organized almost as startups; starting small and with a lot of authority while keeping both team and the corporate very flat on hierarchy.

Over the 16 years there were obviously many incarnations of these values. However, some themes were always there; customer satisfaction, respect for individual achievement, and continuous learning. The continuous learning was pervasive. Good teams applied the principles of trying and learning together. The customer needs and satisfaction were a cornerstone of the product planning. The fair and equal treatment of the individuals was a major value. Perhaps this was the most important value as it enabled building the multi-cultural teams, which further accelerated the learning.

Life after Nokia

My big question was how to bring together my free time passion of making something good for society with my technical toolbox. After some searching, startup entrepreneurs seemed to carry the same passion and the crazy belief that you can forge the future, which was so essential at Nokia. This sentiment combined with discovery of the impact investment and the value-based entrepreneurship concepts finally lead to the decision to start a company.

Kieku

Imagine getting stuck in the traffic, your broadcast radio is focused on music and the podcast players are tricky to use on the go. This is the problem that I had; finding meaningful talks is time consuming and too complicated.

We believe listening makes everything better. It can be true for listening on your daily commute. Sometimes it is about understanding the world, especially if you wish to change it! You are most welcome to explore Kieku and find recommendations based on what you like!

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2 Comments

  1. Lohi Karhu

    Sampsa; nice to hear your thoughts, especially since I know you 🙂

    On ‘Values’: one thing I noticed was the ‘erosion’ of the power of the value statements, over time. When I stated in 2004, the value statements were simple, broad, and powerful… by 2010, they had been reduced in scope and strength, as upper management became more and more ‘bean counters’.

    Still, my 6+ years at Nokia were the highlight of my work life, and it has been great to continue being in touch with the fine people I met, and worked with, in Finland, and in Ulm!

    • Verena

      Moi Lohi,

      thanks for your visit on our blog, would you be be interested to write a NokiaPeople story of your own?
      We would be happy to publish it, let me know.

      Kind regards,
      Verena

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