A RIM Employee’s Letter to Management

July 1st, 2011

A high-level employee at RIM apparently wrote an open letter to RIM’s management team where he argues for significant changes. I suggest you read the entire thing, as it’s incredibly astute and insightful, but here’s one excerpt that’s particularly good:

There is a serious need to consolidate our focus to just a handful of projects. Period.

We need to be disciplined here. We can’t afford any more initiatives based on carrier requests to squeeze out slightly more volume. Again, back to point #1, focus on the end users. They are the ones making both consumer & enterprise purchase decisions.

Strategy is often in the things you decide not to do.

That’s precisely right. RIM’s problem is they have no strategy. The PlayBook is symptomatic of this—rather than release a complete product, they released a tablet that needed to tether to a Blackberry phone to view email, contacts or calendar, and they had no concerted message for developers. They didn’t have a primary development environment for developers; instead, they opened it to Android applications.

This isn’t what a company that has a plan does. This is what a company that believes it’s on the brink of death does: it flails around in one last convulsion.

RIM needs to concede that it failed to recognize the strategic threat from iOS and Android, and instead of attempting to quickly adopt their current products to the new market realities, they should effectively do what Apple did when Steve Jobs returned. They should think through their new strategy, something aggressive that will set the company up for the next decade, and then bet the entire company on it. Slash the company’s current projects to just a few gems based on the new strategy, take the time to make them great, and then execute on it.

They may still fail following this path. In fact, they probably will, because things have gotten so bad. But here’s what’s absolute: if they continue doing what they are doing, it is almost certain they will fail. So they need to take the chance.