We celebrated Jukka Soikkeli's 20+ years at Nokia Research Center at Cafe Fino in Palo Alto last night. Besides learning about Jukka's penchant for Corvettes, and some of his tangible and intangible contributions to (and through) Nokia, it was noted that Jukka is a prototypical Finn: a man of few words, the wisdom of which often becomes evident well after they are uttered. In keeping with this tradition, Jukka gave a rather short speech, although the wisdom (for me) was immediately apparent. One of the things he emphasized was the importance of passion as the key ingredient behind successes he'd witnessed (and promoted) in his years at Nokia. He encouraged those of us who will be continuing on with the firm to not pay so much attention to what people further up the chain are saying [I'm suddenly struck by the multiple interpretations one might associate with the "chains of command(s)"], but to follow our instincts when we're on to something we truly believe is important. [I've posted a separate entry on following my instincts in sharing my passion for Amarone last night on my wine blog]
The topic(s) of passion, instincts and authority provided an undercurrent to many of the discussions I had throughout the rest of the evening with several of my colleagues here at Nokia Research Center Palo Alto. I believe everyone believes in the power of passion, but some of the people who have been with NRC for a long period of time have experienced or witnessed changes that I've heard variously described with terms ranging from gentle breezes to earthquakes. While we are regularly encouraged to take risks here, it's very challenging to take risks in an environment that is not perceived as offering a high level of trust and support. NRC Palo Alto is a new lab, and as such we are co-creating a new culture; as we develop and apply our skills in technical areas, we need to consciously cultivate the kinds of social and community support that will offer the scaffolding needed for bold[er] actions ... and to recognize that we are all leaders in this effort.
I wrote recently about how I feel I'm really coming alive again, after having lived and worked through some winds of change and groundshaking experiences myself (in both the personal and professional dimensions). I still feel very much the new kid on the block, having been here just over 6 months, and coupled with my natural naivete and unbridled optimism, I have high hopes about our prospects for creating a high trust environment that will encourage the kinds of risks we'll need to take in order to succeed.
Mashing up the wisdom of Jukka with a quote often attributed to Harold Thurman Whitman:
Don’t ask yourself what
the worldNokia needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the worldNokia needs is people who have come alive.