If RIM’s CEO Can’t Guarantee Success, Who Can?

by Todd Haselton | March 29, 2012

RIM’s Q4 fiscal earnings conference call just wrapped up and my biggest question of all is, if RIM’s CEO Thorsten Heins doesn’t believe in the company, who does?

There was a moment during the call when Heins said that RIM is working to “turn the company around,” but that there’s “no guarantee of success.” How are we supposed to be excited for RIM’s BlackBerry 10 operating system, invest in RIM (we don’t as journalists, but the public in general), or believe that there’s going to be real, needed change within the company if RIM’s own CEO can’t guarantee a turnaround? Perhaps the situation truly is as dire at it seems.

RIM announced that three of its executives are retiring, including the former co-CEO and chairman of the board Jim Balsillie. Were they pushed out to early retirement or did they choose to leave on their own? Who knows. But let’s look at this from a different angle. When you’re going through tough times, who do you want by your side? A pessimist or an optimist? The answer is an optimist. You want someone who’s going to tell you that your company, your team, your squad, is going to make it through the hard times and see the other side. That you’ll find success. But RIM’s CEO just said he can’t guarantee success, and he said it for everyone to hear. Would I want to be an employee for a company that doesn’t believe in itself? You bet not. It’s no wonder RIM has lost a number of executives, including several to Samsung.

I’m not an expert on personal success, but I know that when I think about achieving personal goals I always say “when” I achieve them, not “if.” RIM, unfortunately, clearly still has the “if” mentality, and it’s reflected in nearly every analyst and press report that’s written about the company.

I’ll toss Heins a bone here. He inherited a company that was already in dire straits and he’s only been at the helm for 10 weeks. He also did say that RIM is making the “necessary changes” and that it’s refocusing on its strengths, including on the enterprise and on emerging markets. He also admitted that RIM’s going to see continued financial challenges during the next few quarters. Heins explained that RIM can reverse its current course by continuing to leverage the BlackBerry platform, pushing for a successful BlackBerry 10 launch and continuing its organizational realignment.

But he still can’t guarantee success, and RIM owes it to its employees and investors to find a CEO who can.



Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...