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Stephen Elop's "Burning Platform" Memo Is Art

Posted in: Random Thoughts

Today, an article that (for some reason or another) resonated with me from yester-year popped up in in my news feed: The well known "Burning Platform" memo written by Stephen Elop - at a time when Nokia's future was uncertain. It describes Nokia's troubles as an oil rig on fire and radical changes will need to be made to ensure the company can continue to succeed in years to come.

As I look back at this infamous memo, I'm reminded how Elop manages to grab your attention in an artistic and well written way. I am instantly able to relate exactly to dire circumstances the CEO and it's workers face.

For those who don't know what I am talking about, here's an excerpt:

There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a “burning platform,” and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

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