“Positive energy”, “amazing upbeat mood”, “fascinating mix of innovation and transformation” – the unique “Silicon Valley Ecosystem” left a lasting and inspiring impression on the participants of the 3-day LeadershipGarage Experience organized by Haufe and Leuphana University. We thus achieved a key objective of our journey – to experience the spirit of Silicon Valley, understand the forces driving growth and innovation, transfer knowledge and build networks. While this blog entry focuses on the two most important lessons learned during our journey, still more is yet to come!
Because this is just the start of our blog series “Inside Silicon Valley”, in which we describe our personal impressions of the Californian think tank and explain the ideas we took with us to use in our day-to-day business.
It’s all about collaboration!
Knowledge and experience seen as an exclusive resource, jealously guarded and misused as an instrument of power? Not so in Silicon Valley! “Human network” is a far more appropriate way to describe life in Silicon Valley. Why? Because people who have an exciting idea or who are involved in implementing an innovative project allow themselves to be “challenged” by other interested individuals. In other words, they put their idea/project up for debate, aiming to tap the know-how of many more creative minds and so help make their own idea or own project even better. The actual subject is not important; the main thing is it triggers a lively discussion and a creative exchange of ideas.
People thus collaborate in informal networks, sharing their knowledge and exchanging views – no matter whether they are from the world of science or business, whether they are freelance or simply have a sideline interest in the subject. So what does this mean for us? Like Silicon Valley, we need to find new ways of exchanging ideas which go beyond the established means and which are not ultimately driven by the selfish question “What’s in it for me?”. On the contrary, we should be able to use the knowledge and experience of other creative minds and visionaries within an interdisciplinary network – while also always being prepared to share our own knowledge.
Nothing is a mistake
Silicon Valley has its very own spirit, or “secret sauce”, as Dr. Keith Devlin, Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Language and Information and honorary professor of mathematics at Stanford University, puts it in an inspiring lecture. The most important ingredients in this “secret sauce” are the aforementioned “human network”, easy access to knowledge and resources, a corresponding knowledge infrastructure, public and private investment and a very high tolerance towards actual and supposed mistakes: Nothing is a mistake. This approach is tangible everywhere and gives people a unique spirit, which when combined with the other “secret sauce” ingredients makes Silicon Valley the location for innovation and progress. For managers back in Germany, the lesson to take from this must be to create a corresponding environment of their own. This also includes becoming much less fearful of doing something wrong. And also helping our employees (the very people who make our companies successful) overcome this ingrained pattern of behavior. We can only do this if we as managers also exemplify such behavior and include many more iterative elements in our management tools.
We will soon bring you the next blog entries which will give you even deeper insights into the “Silicon Valley Ecosystem”, as experienced by participants and outlined by speakers.
Have you already been to Silicon Valley? What were your impressions? What ideas and suggestions did you take away with you? Or perhaps you think Silicon Valley is not a suitable model for our companies? If so, why?