Just today, four thousand Mobile Motorola employees received sobering news. They became the newest casualties of marketplace change. A mere ten years ago, they had such momentum. Do you remember when the Motorola Razr was the mobile phone to have? What happened?
The same is true for Nokia. They were once leaders in the wireless marketplace. Today’s news reminded me of a Wall Street Journal article that detailed “Nokia’s Bad Call on Smartphones”. While the momentum enjoyed by Motorola and Nokia fizzled out for different reasons, they both fizzled.
Nokia’s sobering tale really hit me between the eyes. The Seed Company is founded upon “encouraging creativity and innovation.” It’s a core value that challenges us to meet people groups where they are. For example, we launched a website that functions as an online tool for crowd sourced translation (we fondly call this CrowdSeed). Sounds exciting right? But, what’s so sobering? Here are a few reflections:
- “Nokia secretly developed…a tablet computer with a wireless connection and touch screen—all features today of the hot-selling Apple iPad.” History is littered with would-have-been success stories. Innovation without implementation results in a tragic waste of talent and resources. With respect to Bible translation, we have to press forward with an understanding of the urgency of the times we live in. Seven years before the iPhone launch, Nokia previewed an interactive color touch screen phone. Seven years! We must steward innovation better.
- “Casualties of a corporate culture that lavished funds on research but squandered opportunities to bring innovations it produced to market.” In the ministry world, we talk a lot. We attend congresses and vote on proper protocol. These systems are designed as measures of governance, which is good. However, research and development casualties occur all too frequently. Innovations, ideas, and inspiration must be translated into reality.
- “…Nokia clearly saw where the industry it dominated was heading. But its research effort was fragmented by internal rivalries and disconnected from the operations that actually brought phones to market.” Great Commission organizations are focused on that glorious day when Jesus is known by the nations. We see that bright future. Like Nokia, we know where we are headed. We have already won and yet we have so many connections to make. We have so much to give to those who have so little. Will we continue to be fragmented by internal rivalries? As Paul so often said, “may it never be” (Galatians 6:14).
My heart is with those that have become causalities of the marketplace. My heart is burdened for ministry leaders who are feeling the potentially paralyzing weight of change (myself included). How will our legacy models survive the 21st Century? In the world of Bible translation, we can’t afford casualties. We can’t afford to become the next Motorola or Nokia. Eternal decisions are made with every partnership, every contract, and every keystroke. Join us in our relentless pursuit to bring translation innovations to scalable implementation!
“Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.” (Habbakuk 1:5, NLT)