Innovation Nokia style – How did Nokia become the leader in mobile phones?

How did Nokia become a leader of the mobile phone industry in the 90s ?

It’s really hard to see favorable predispositions for a Finnish group initially specialized in mining and forest exploitation, although Nokia already had activities in the radio phones back in the 60s.

It seems that one of the thing which triggered its astonishing success as a mass-market mobile phone producer goes back to a mission carried out by Gary Hamel, the famous strategy guru. To boost the Finnish company creativity,  Hamel suggested that teams of Nokia senior managers be sent in three rather special places : Venice Beach in California, King’s Road in London, and the Tokyo night club area…(probably for the greatest delight of the managers, who we rather think of as more used to the polar circle…) Why? Because it was thought that in these areas, trend setters in the use of high technology could be found. The creative spark is not always hidden in a 250 page Gartner Group report, nor in series of endless internal brainstorming meetings… Sometimes, it’s more productive to live as real customers, in remote places ; the creative spark is there, right under your nose. It’s after these “learning expeditions” that Nokia understood that mobile phones had gone beyond their utilitarian purpose, and that they had become “fashion accessories”.