RIM Restructuring Ignores Top Heavy Management

by Matt Klassen on July 27, 2011

RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis

Its interesting that yesterday’s tempered enthusiasm over Research in Motion’s restructuring plan—that would see some 2000 employees lose their jobs—could turn so quickly into today’s pessimism over the company’s management structure, but through the night I came across an article that made me realize that RIM’s approach to restructuring is much likes its approach to everything else, ill-timed and ill-focused.

The point being, while RIM’s explanation regarding the layoffs as being as necessary measure to cut out redundancies and refocus resources to better streamline the company was right on the money, as CNET’s Roger Cheng notes, “If Research In Motion is going to take a scalpel to its work force, it should start at the top.”

You see, RIM is the epitome of a top-heavy company; a company weighed down by so much upper level management that it’s foundation of rank-and-file workers can barely support it. It’s this lopsided management structure that has led RIM into this mess, and until the company is willing to cut really deep, nothing will change.

In a market that changes exponentially every few months, and with a technological consumer base that has the attention span of an amoeba, the key things technology companies cannot afford to linger on is decision making and new product launches.

However, it is exactly in these areas where RIM has faltered, and even with a recovery strategy in place designed to get the Waterloo Company out of its current quagmire, it doesn’t look like the company will touch the root of its issues, a redundant management structure.

I recall once describing RIM as a rudderless ship, a directionless company being tossed about in the wake of market battleships like Google and Apple, but I now realize that the problem isn’t that RIM has no rudder; it’s that it has far too many rudders with none of them pointing in the same direction.

With two CEOs [Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis] and two Chief Operating Officers, there are so many people at RIM vying for control of the direction of the company that its no wonder innovation has been stalled and products aren’t selling. It almost seems like RIM is in the midst of an identity crisis; a state of confusion that has a sluggish RIM watching its closest competitors rush past and capture valuable market share.

There’s little debate that RIM once had a great idea, as its email platform stood as the market standard for many years. The problem now, however, is that the company has no idea how to build on that, how to keep innovating, and what direction to take its products; a swamp of indecision that has forced RIM to purchase its innovation instead of organically growing it from within.

So here’s how RIM’s problems can be broken down: Its top heavy management leads to a delay in decision making, which in turn leads to sluggish innovation, which in turn leads to lacklustre products, which itself leads to knee jerk acquisitions of new technology, which then leads to a delay in the application of that technology…and rinse and repeat.

The bottom line, Research in Motion is at a crossroads, with four different leaders pulling the brand in four different ways.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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