“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”
― Michael Jordan
This is my interpretation and experience of Nokia family and the spirit of Nokia. In my opinion this spirit is well alive and kicking in Oulu and Finland and it still need to spread and grow. The reason why I write this, because I can still feel the spirit. The feeling of being part of the family is there everytime I meet my ex-collegues or visit Nokia for business. Feeling is very concrete and I truly value it. But what is that feeling about?
I have thought about it a lot and in my opinion it comes down to organizational culture, which consists of Respect, Passion, Leadership, Expertise and Collaboration. These were the drivers back then and they grew to be part of my personal way of work as well. It was common knowledge that the organizational culture in ”The Networks side” is different from ”The Mobile Nokia side”. My experience stems from the Networks side. Respect, passion, leadership, expertise and collaboration are the elements that still connect me to my ex-collegues. It is also important and amazing that I have received enormous amount of support, empathy and advice from the operational management and engineers when building my career after doctoral studies.
How it all started?
Starting year 2002 I worked for R&D projects in Nokia Networks through a sub-contractor. It was first just a trainee position in documentation and communication, but soon I got hired into a permanent position. Later on I did my career move into academia, where I was teaching, specializing in e-learning for 8 years and later on started my doctoral studies. Recently I finalized my PhD thesis and my case company was Nokia Networks, (Nsn back then). Some of my best friends work there and part of my family as well. I did an enormous amount of work between 2013-2016 with my PhD thesis in collecting research data and later on having validation meetings and workshops about the results in Nokia. So I came across that work community and its values many times. So what does that feeling of Nokia family and values consist of? Let´s dig into deeper into the topic!
First, in all meetings, e-mails and virtual forums there were sincere respect between colleagues. Discussions were constructive and there was also courage to go through conflicts. What was great that humour was valued. I came from the different field, I was a woman and in minority in all aspects. I started as a trainee in communications and soon moved into supportive roles in R&D programs. Nothing significant – just communication and documentation planning, documentation, support and training. I felt like part of the family since the first day I started there. People were proud members of Nokia family and it was an priviledge to work there. People took responsibility of their work, were highly commited and took responsibility of others as well. Diversity was appreciated and it still is.
I soon came to acknowledge how interesting personalities worked there. There were RF gurus, who enjoyed spending most of their time in testing labs. Once I got a ride to a meeting from one of the specialists and his car was full of transistors and cables of all sorts. Some of these technicians and specialists told me how happy they are that their hobby has turned into a career in technology. These guyes loved their work. But Nokia engineers had other passions in life as well. Relatively common was to participate on voluntary work, build furniture, cars or do outdoor sports in semi-pro level. There was passion to grow and to develop as a human being in many different levels. Passion at work was concentrated on solving the problems, experiencing flow through growth, creating new innovations, discovering new ways to see complex situations and products. Drive to innovate in and outside of work communities is what connects ”Nokia minded” professionals. Passion also helps in balancing your work and personal life.
Good leadership is difficult to describe and measure, it is so fundamental and it is one of those things that you recognize once you experience it. There are rows and rows of leadership books and novels about inspirational leaders. It is still a mystery why some leaders are better than others, even if they all have the same qualifications. Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood have said in HBR video that your personal leadership brand is based on the value you bring to other people. It is about acknolowdging your strenghts and recognizing the audience you like to serve and then doing the best you can to help the community. This is where real leadership stems from.
In order to do that, people need feedback. People should observe, listen, watch and listen to feedback. It also essential that you let people know your values, let them know how you do things and how do you deliver value to others? Organization´s support is often needed for this to realize.
It is typical that successful leaders often have similar backgrounds. They have often had early responsibilities at home or at work. This can typically increase work ethics and sense of responsibility, integrity and accountability. Thus, leadership starts from within and it is a matter of how it is expressed. Culture of leadership is based on both personal leadership and on corporate leaders and their power is enormous. Both for good and for worse.
Expert and experience are related words, derived from Latin meaning “to put to the test”. Therefore experts are people that have been tested and trained by experience and they have a deep knowledge of a subject. Experience provides historical perspective to view new situations and events and it can also deal with complexity in a complex way. Experts value their colleagues, but their personal reward doesn´t necessarily come from being with them. Team working may not come naturally to experts, so this makes situation in organizations more complex. Therefore organizational support and leadership is needed in order to utilize all the expert power. Anyhow expertise is a base of power in Nokia, experts are highly valued and expert´s opinions are listened to. Experts might also share same interests and hobbies, which may make it difficult to draw a line between time spent at work and leasure time. Sometimes problems at work can be solved while hunting or skiing. Even if I am not a technological expert, I am an expert in communications and I feel that my expertise is valued among me and Nokia family.
Collaboration incorporates also coordination, cooperation and teamwork and it enhances positive effects of trust and therefore it improves team performance and knowledge flow. It is a feeling how every team member drives for project´s success, making their project highest in priority. Also conflicts are allowed and even encouraged. People communicate in engaging manner with openness and respect.
Nokia has gone through massive changes within past decades and it continues to succeed in turbulent constantly changing markets. Maybe in Nokia Network´s culture there is something that we all can learn from.
I haven´t worked there for over ten years, but my personal values are still the same. Considering expert work, respect, collaboration and leadership I can still relate and connect to Nokia family and it feels great! It is so far the best work community I have had and I like to bring those values wherever I go.