Inside The Waterloo Stasis Field

For years and years one of the more interesting things about Research In Motion was that they appeared to exist in a bubble. Industry would change, business would change, the whole world would change … but the people steering the Good Ship RIM would keep on sailing in the same old direction, firm in the belief that their way was the right way and whatever was happening outside the Waterloo Stasis Field was completely wrong and if they just closed their eyes it would all go away.

Cynical people used to say that it was because Blackberry handsets were so bad at serving web that it was easier to just be in the dark than try to use the browser. People with a more realistic take saw it as a symptom of being the media darling of the Canadian business and tech world. Nortel fell to the same fate – when everyone continually tells the emperor how awesome his clothes are, walking around naked becomes easier than admitting you are freezing your balls off.

So. Time moves on, the globe spins round and round, RIM is now BlackBerry … and nothing at all seems to have changed. The top brass still seem to think they are in some sort of fortress of solitude and can toss out stuff like this. Stuff that years ago would have been accepted as gospel but now gets checked and tossed back as a big stinking pile of humiliating goo. They may have changed the faces at the top, but the corporate mentality is still the same.

Just as vexing is this: “In Canada, yesterday was the best day ever for the first day of a launch of a new BlackBerry smartphone. In fact, it was more than 50% better than any other launch day in our history in Canada.” Meaning … what? What was the previous launch record? 10 units? 1000? 10000? Why no numbers? Are they embarrassing? So-so? More? Less? Everyone else gives numbers … even Samsung, famous for fudging the numbers by reporting “units shipped” instead of “units sold through” at least gives some sort of quantifiable value. Worse, everyone knows that all of the other guys give numbers … meaning that everyone immediately wonders why Blackberry didn’t do the same.

Listen. There are lots and lots of smart, driven, innovative, creative people working at Blackberry. I know this for a fact. Maybe it’s time to let some of them run the show instead of sticking with “proven management history”. Because at this point, that history is not good. Not good at all.

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