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Thorsten Heins Discusses Constant Drumbeat of Negative Press & Renewed Focus


I thought this was an interesting question that came out during our press session with RIM’s CEO, Thorsten Heins. He was asked by one of the writers in attendance “how frustrating and demoralizing is it for Thorsten and RIM to hear the constant drumbeat of ‘RIM is Failing’ or ‘RIM is being sold off’…?” Here was Thorsten’s response: (Paraphrased)

This is a very sensitive question for me but one I am very glad you asked. I have a thick skin and I know what is true and what is a little bit off. What worries me is that I have employees working day and night to get stuff done and they are sacrificing time with friends and family to win. They get asked all these questions from their families and friends about what went wrong and they are subject to a lot of these discussions. What struck me personally was that once the management team provided this renewed focus, accountability, and guidance they brushed their shoulders and the morale in RIM is increasing where employees now know what they are focused on and how that will ensure RIM will succeed. This is another one of the relationships that we have changed at RIM. I (Thorsten) talk to our employees very openly and frank and give direct honest feedback. The teams are also now beginning to see the convergence to the final objective of a solid perfect BlackBerry 10 launch. This is one of the things that keeps me up at night to shield my people from this negative positioning of the company in the wrong spot as we build the future. RIM is very big on on accepting valid criticism and being part of that conversation but in a productive way.

My favorite quote from Thorsten was that RIM is becoming a “lean mean nimble hunting machine.” That has meant analyzing how many management layers RIM has and needs, an accountability system, is there one person who is responsible at the end, and empowerment. RIM is a very collaborative company but this did not scale in their explosive growth with teams not individuals being responsible or empowered to do what they need. This lead to fragmentation of responsibilities and slowed RIM down.

Thorsten wants RIM to be so focused they melt steel like a laser (Thorsten is a physicist) since he wants RIM to focus on what will lead to success. They also means he wants a laser focus at RIM for messaging to customers. They are homing in on a CMO but they cannot announce it yet but they are very close to announcing one. They are also announcing a Chief Operating Officer instead of the three different ones that had before Thorsten was CEO.

Goals and Objectives – BlackBerry 7 has reached its level of perfection that for more than 15 years has created growth for RIM. RIM needed something to take RIM forward in the mobile computing space. Building an OS from the bottom up takes years. Continuing with the current BlackBerry 7 OS legacy RIM had was limited and would have been a complete rewrite anyways. RIM looked at open platforms and saw what was happening to companies using them and it did not give RIM any confidence or a way to differentiate themselves. RIM’s hard choice was that they have to do it themselves for the next decade. So they chose QNX that specialized in verticals, for example, 65% of cars run QNX and 95% of car makers implement QNX. Dan Dodge in combination with the RIM team started the journey 1.5 years ago to integrate the companies (RIM & QNX) along with others like the astonishing tribe. The Developer alpha is one step further to help bring partners and companies to get familiar with the application platform.

Last but not least what I found reassuring was Thorsten’s response to a question of “Where do you think RIM’s market share numbers will be in Q4 of 2012 when BlackBerry 10 launches?” Thorsten said that RIM expects to gain market share in the US. RIM is not in the market to be in the game, they want to win. Thorsten calls this question the average temperature of patients in the hospital question where it is all based on each market and you cannot average each patients temprature. A negative situation in the US and positive in Europe, Middle East, and Africa until BlackBerry 10 launches.

9 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Interesting read, Ronen!

  2. Nice article. That gives me a lot of confidence to invest in RIM.

  3. Answered w/dignity, class and swagga…. Thor is brilliant and fun… I have no doubts he’ll lead RIM back into media/consumer rejuvenation…

  4. Nice, I wish the media would report this but I don’t think they will.

  5. @kiddo, BGR aside, I have seen great reviews of BBWC from blogs who usually snub their noses tho… Def still far from posting what are the pertinent facts/info, but none the less I’ve seen very postivie and dare I say even semi-stoked sounding reviews…. Props to BerryReview for blogging strong thru it all… Keynotes to sessions, apps, features and Q & A I think BerryReview is showing up even RIM’s feed lol

  6. Awesome. I am finally starting to regain confidence in the company I have supported for many years. Very encouraging words from a strong, capable leader.

  7. Thorsten is right. You can’t just be in the game to succeed, you must play to win! They must continue to hit home runs with everything they do — again, not to survive or succeed, but to win. Winning is doing it better, taking leadership, being innovative and pushing the envelope, and building healthy and strong partnerships not just with carriers and corporate users but with the plain-old-guy or gal on the street.

    Users aren’t people you just throw things at or bait, you need to engage them in the product, and this is what RIM is doing so well with BB10. The app developers are making firm commitments to BB10 and PlayBook, and this will greatly expand the ecosystem and attract more users to the platform.

    • Absolutely, I think RIMM’s fall from grace came when they took their customers for granted, assuming that they would always be there no matter what and not listening to their concerns. With BB10 and a new leader it appears that RIMM has turned a corner and is ready to reclaim their top spot once again.

  8. I have tremendous respect for this CEO.

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