The RIM letters: Learn from RIM's mistakes

RIM is a dead company walking, and the recent exchange between anonymous employees and RIM execs illustrates why.

RIM is dead. It isn't in the ground yet, but its days are numbered, and the recent public discourse between anonymous RIM employees and the RIM CEOs indicates that RIM won't fix the problem(s) because it won't even recognize or admit they exist. So, what can you learn from RIM to make sure you don't repeat its mistakes?

The first sentence of the original anonymous letter posted at Boy Genius Report sums the whole situation up: "I have lost confidence."

The response from RIM executives was to issue some sort of marketing fluff statement filled with roses and sunshine rationalizing the current situation, and painting a rosy picture of the bright days that are surely just ahead. Beneath the smoke, has this aura of a gambling addict sitting at a roulette table having lost his life savings and telling himself it will all be great....just one more bet.

The reaction from RIM was patronizing and condescending. It seems apparent that RIM does not believe that the original letter actually came from an employee, and that it has no intention of taking the points made in it seriously. It is much easier to deny the authenticity of the letter than to face the reality that RIM employees actually think that way.

It is sad, really. RIM should not be in the position it is in now, and with better leadership it probably could have been avoided. Here is what you should do to avoid being a RIM:

1. Innovate. The problem with a company like RIM is that it did such a great job taking a niche concept and establishing it as the de facto mobile communications and messaging platform for business that it forgot to evolve beyond that. It stopped innovating--to the point of arrogantly ignoring the threat from iOS and Android until it was too late.

2. Listen. One of the number one problems that companies run into is a failure to listen. How can you address market concerns and meet the needs of consumers if you don't stop to listen to what they are? How can you recognize issues and solve problems within the company if you don't respect employees and listen to what they have to say?

3. Don't Believe Your Own Marketing Hype. Just because you made headlines in 2006, doesn't mean anyone remembers who you are in 2011. You have to keep working at it.

4. Act, Don't React. It is not enough to just play catch up with competitors. Your product or service has to give customers some compelling incentive to use it. You have to be able to see beyond what your rivals are doing today, and willing to look at the changing landscape and develop a vision for the future that leapfrogs the competition and gives you the edge.

RIM right now seems like a house of cards on the verge of collapse while the execs sit in the board room on the top floor admiring the view. Learn from RIM's mistakes and don't let your company go down this path.

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Tony Bradley

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