This is starting to look less like RIM’s “peanut butter” memo moment and more like a train wreck. The day after an open letter from an unnamed RIM executive, detailing lost confidence in the company, was published, a number of other RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) employees present and past have started to pile in with their own grievances.
The blog BGR — which first published the executive’s letter yesterday — writes that it has received “dozens” of letters in response. And what should be particularly worrying for RIM is that BGR claims that all of them in principle agree with the first memo. That is to say, no one seems to have to come to RIM’s defense. Except for RIM itself, of course, whose response was at best a defensive stall rather than a strong message to the contrary.
Some key passages from two letters BGR has published today. As with the first open letter, these two are anonymous, although the blog says it has verified the identities of the authors.
Very low worker morale, resulting from hairy office politics: A former employee writes, “People were pitted against each other and an incredibly tense and hostile work environment was fostered. People around the office started referring to the office politics as ‘Survivor: RIM edition.’
“Individuals who have fresh ways of thinking and who try to do things in new ways are not only reprimanded, but demoted…. Passive-aggression fills the halls where collegial interaction should thrive. The amount of red tape required to get just about anything done is exhausting, slowing progress and removing all incentive for employees at any level to innovate. Success cannot be borne of a 2005 status quo when the world looks a lot different now than it did even 12 months ago.”
“No longer ‘In Motion’”: A current employee writes, “The operations teams are full of extremely skilled and talented individuals who are excessively good at what they do — they were hired for that reason…. However, each one of us has been handcuffed by overdone, poorly planned and every more poorly executed process. It can take weeks of time to make small changes, and months to make major ones. Whenever something goes wrong (incident, problems, even non-customer impacting) a lengthy and involved process of finger pointing starts, and without fail, a new process is born. And, sadly, since the announcement came out about the financial problems and layoffs, it’s become worse.”
The AT&T legacy: The same employee says the preponderance of alums from AT&T and other large incumbent operators has affected the climate for change and innovation. “Internally, there’s a large joke that we should be called ‘RIM-T&T. A lot of our senior leadership has come from there, and they come in with ideas from an old, stodgy, process driven industry…. Maybe they have some great best practices, but you don’t see ‘new and innovative’ happening a lot at AT&T (NYSE: T). It also opens up a lot of questions about business directions when many senior leaders came from one of our carrier partners.”
The products don’t stand up: “If you walk around and talk to RIM employees…about the products we make, you’ll find most of us a) don’t know anything about our new products, b) don’t like our current products and c) pine for the old products…. The current products are slow and underpowered. It’s generally acknowledged that our devices are inferior to other devices, and indeed, many people have personal devices from our competitors.”
The current employee also notes an anecdote of a woman going into a shop to buy a RIM device and was talked out of it by the sales person, who convinced her to buy an iPhone for a cheaper price after telling her how much better it was. “When our only avenue to selling our devices is through a ‘neutral’ third party, and is just as happy to sell someone a competitors product as ours, we are at their mercy,” he writes.
That’s been an issue for all device makers, with perhaps the exception of Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), which has mastered its own retail strategy. Coincidentally, this is one area where this week we saw Nokia pull back yet again, closing its online stores for the U.S. and UK.