Connecting Humanity

Team “Operation Elop”: Why and how the book?

We launched the free online book Operation Elop on February 11th in the Beyond Nokia group. In about 60 hours the book had 9000+ visits and 270 reads. Launch posts in Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have been viewed, liked or shared thousands of times. Already by now, the ebook has even been ripped off from its license terms and re-published without our permission. Wow. We feel humble and grateful. And happy. Maybe even a bit empty after the passionate final sprint in the project?

We? Who is we? And why did we make and launch this book? Why did we spend hours and hours working on a pro bono project thinking about and discussing a company most of us no longer work for?

“At least for me this was a fabulous reminder of how it used to be.”

We are a team of about two dozen ex-Nokians, or to be precise, one or two are working for Nokia also today. We came together in the Beyond Nokia group in October 2017, after one of us called for contributors to contribute to a pro bono English translation effort around the 2014 book “Operaatio Elop” by authors Merina Salminen and Pekka Nykänen.

“The engagement was a natural part of life as a Nokian.”

The original book came out in Finnish when turbulence was peaking in Nokia’s smartphone business. People were asking for an English translation but that never happened. After some publishing industry twists and turns the authors Merina and Pekka agreed that our pro bono team could launch a free online English version of the book if they could not land a commercial publishing deal by the end of the year 2017.

“My reason for participating in this project is that it has been quite an emotional journey from being very proud of the (mobile phone) company to becoming an example of a huge failure, and bringing our story to the world (in English) is part of the healing process.”

We worked on the shared translation file in Google Docs, communicating over Facebook Chat. Chapters were reserved on a first-come-first-served basis. Finnish readers were translating and non-Finnish readers were proofreading. Some of us used Google Translate for the initial rough translation and some others despised Google Translate.

January 2018 came and eventually our team got all chapters translated. Some of us had difficulties squeezing the book project in their lives, yet they insisted they want to deliver, some made graceful exits from the translation work, and helping hands were found among the team. Proofreading was in progress when one of us realized that February the 11th will mark the anniversary of Stephen Elop’s 2011 announcement of Nokia’s new Windows Phone smartphone strategy so we decided to launch our book on February the 11th.

“I just didn’t have that emotional connection after the change. It was like something was taken away.”

The noon of February the 3rd was set to be the Google Docs to Medium transfer readiness deadline, and the last week before the launch was spent on fixing and honing the text in Medium.

“I agree that we would never be done with polishing.”

We launched on February the 11th after spending the last days with final final proofreading and correcting errors. Native US English speakers in the team had been going through the full text and some additional passionate proofreaders joined the effort over the final weekend.

“Good morning, please cross-check this sentence with the original. Is it really millions, or should it be billions? “Elop reminded that there were still 2.7 million people in the world, who did not have a mobile phone.””

We launched, we were relieved and scared at the same time. What would the internet think of the book? “Yet another Nokia book, why can’t you people simply move on?” Or would people find language glitches and factual errors in our translation?

“Hey, I’m browsing through the Nokia/Elop doc. Fix the MS Estonia sinking [2] because it happened in 1994, not in 1992.”

The book has now been out for about two days, and 95% of the feedback is positive. 5% is a bit unclear, but no negative messages have come to our ears.

“Have you checked how many #operationelop posts there are on Twitter. It makes me glad – most comments are very positive. We did a good thing, folks!”

So why did we want to spend hours and hours in this project?

“Nokia was my first real workplace and I joined in 1996 when it was a huge boom. I was so proud and happy about the company. That feeling of commitment (to the original company where we all were in the same boat and always willing to help anyone out) never went away. I’m so glad I got to experience that, and frankly, I’m still searching for a job where I could find that feeling of camaraderie, common purpose and changing the world for the better. Any suggestions?”

It may sound like a cliche, but the project was about commitment, camaraderie, common purpose, and changing the world for the better. A dose of the old Nokia values Respect for the individual, Continuous learning, and Achievement. Maybe also Customer satisfaction, after all this was definitely not only a therapy project for ourselves (!) but we truly want to share the insights of the original Finnish book with the wider English-speaking audience.

“Ai saamari, onpa hienoa! En yleensä harrasta ylisanoja, mutta onhan tämä käsittämättömän hienoa.” – Pekka Nykänen, the author of the original “Operaatio Elop” book (“Holy crap, this is great! Usually I don’t use superlatives but this is unbelievably great.”)

What about the un-approved republishing of the book? We got hold of the person, explained our rationale behind the book and kindly but decisively asked him to put back our license terms. And he did.


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  1. Tomaz

    Thank you for the book and your effort to translate it.
    Book gives great inside look, why I will soon have to ditch my beloved 808 PV and look elsewhere.
    Really sad story.

  2. En 1998 nuestra empresa comenzó su actividad como NOKIA CARE, siempre recordaré los muy buenos momentos que vivimios trabajando y colaborando con esta empresa en su proyecto. El compañerismo con otros colaboradores, y trabajadores de NOKIA, los cursos, y el sentimiento de pertenecer a una gran familia, un gran grupo, que nos hacia sentir profesionales lideres en el sector de la telefonía, ofreciendo los mejores productos y servicios y logrando la plena satisfacción de los clientes. Me encantaria leer ese libro con el que seguramente me sentiré muy identificado.

  3. Oliver Guenther

    It is great effort that you have set-up this book. I loved to read it in the last 3 days and have re-lived my Nokia story, especially the period of 2009 to 2011, when I got made redundant in September 11. It was a great learning period and without it I would have not been able to participate in a start-up, where I am working since then.

  4. Luis

    exc job guys, thanks so much for all the hard work, Nokia is a loved brand for many many people, and for me it means so much…this books helps me find out what happened to Nokia and now things are more clear than ever. Greeting from Costa Rica. Someday I will visit Finland, Nokia town, Nokia headquarters in Espoo (no more Nokia House in Keilaniem) and of course get to know the wonderful people from Finland, they have gained my heart.

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