Drama in BlackBerryland: RIM Exec Reportedly Rips Superiors

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It’s no secret that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion needs to make some big changes to stay relevant in the smartphone game, but one company executive thinks that point is lost on the company’s leadership.

An open letter, reportedly written by a senior RIM executive and published by Boy Genius Report, pleads with RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis to make some big shake-ups in the company’s organizational structure, culture and leadership. The writer explained his or her anonymity by saying that “the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects.”

(MORE: The Frighteningly Fast Fall of BlackBerry)

Among this supposed employee’s suggestions:

  • Focus on what users want and adding new experiences that aren’t available on other platforms.
  • Release fewer, better products instead of bowing to wireless carriers, who only want to squeeze out more volume. Stop shipping incomplete products, like the BlackBerry PlayBook.
  • Throw “a truckload of money” at developers and developer relations, because “BlackBerry smartphone apps suck.”
  • Figure out better marketing campaigns. PlayBook ads that focused on Flash and multitasking didn’t resonate, nor did human interest ads about people using BlackBerry Messenger.
  • Start holding employees accountable for failure. Stop giving important initiatives to managers who can’t deliver.
  • Make the work culture more enjoyable (“some of our offices feel like Soviet-era government workplaces”) and re-brand the company internally, perhaps by changing the company name to “BlackBerry.”
  • Finally, put someone else in charge as CEO. Balsillie and Lazaridis should show some humility and take on different roles.

There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering in the letter, just a lot of common sense for a company that is no longer hitting its sales estimates.

RIM has already responded to the letter, using a tone you’d expect from a company that needs to pacify its shareholders. To wit:

“RIM recently confirmed that it is nearing the end of a major business and technology transition. Although this transition has taken longer than anticipated, there is much excitement and optimism within the company about the new products that are lined up for the coming months. There is a fundamental business reality however that following an extended period of hyper growth (during which RIM nearly quadrupled in size over the past 5 years alone), it has become necessary for the company to streamline its operations in order to allow it to grow its business profitably while pursuing newer strategic opportunities.”

Still awake? RIM also questioned the letter’s veracity, saying that “it is particularly difficult to believe that a ‘high level employee’ in good standing with the company would choose to anonymously publish a letter on the web rather than engage their fellow executives in a constructive manner.” BGR insists that the letter is accurate and its author was vetted.

It’s all reminiscent of when developer Jamie Murai wrote an open letter to the company, blasting its app development policies, and RIM responded with promises of change. Props to RIM for once again responding in such short order, albeit with rather stiff language. Hopefully the company’s leadership is taking the advice to heart, if they’re not saying so.

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