The San Francisco Bay-area isn’t known for it’s weather and amazing Chinese food. Known as Silicon Valley, the region of southern San Fransisco and further south has historically been a hotbed of technological innovation, if not the global hub of all things tech.
This is the part of the world that birthed Google, Microsoft and Apple among literally thousands of other profitable tech companies. Name any company known for their successful technological advancements, and 90% of the time they will either be headquartered in Silicon Valley, or at the very least have a presence there.
So, why is it that this part of the country is considered the place to be for any company looking to take an innovative stab at business? Microsoft may argue “It’s because this is where we started!” and Apple may say the same of their own company. In any case, that does not really matter, but the fact remains that more venture capital is invested in Silicon Valley than any other region of the United States.
This is the land where the iPhone was first developed. This is where Uber internationally revolutionized the way that people think about private transportation. This is where Tesla developed the first truly desirable electric car.
A stone tossed into the bay here has ripples across the globe.
You are probably wondering what the secret is to the overwhelming success of so many businesses in Silicon Valley. Is it the focus on technology, or something in the water? Actually, it has little to do with technology directly per se, but more so the business climate with laser-focus on the future and a culture of encouraging innovation inherent to so many companies in the region.
Today we are going to dig deep and retrieve the key takeaways for how you learn from the success of the Silicon Valley club.
The power of leadership
Ask employees at the major players in the Valley how to describe their CEO in five words, and “leadership” is guaranteed to be one of the words.
The opportunities for success in Silicon Valley are robust, but they come at a price: startups pop up and seemingly disappear overnight. However, strong leadership does not crumble in the face of failure. Rather, following failure, a powerful leader is even more determined to get it right, and charge ahead.
According to Google executive Vint Cerf, failure in Silicon Valley is not synonymous with the destruction of a company:
“Importantly, business or technical failure is considered experience and not an indelible mark of incompetence.”
Paul Saffo, managing director of Discer, picks up where Cerf left off:
“The secret to Silicon Valley’s success? We know how to fail and we have been doing it for decades. Failure is what fuels and renews this place. Failure is the foundation for innovation.
Failure is essential because even the cleverest of innovations – and businesses – fail a few times before they ultimately succeed.”
Only the most persistent of leaders are able to forge ahead in the face of failure, and realize that each failure means that they are one step closer to success. By combining wild, unbridled innovation with focus and elbow grease, Silicon Valley has become home to some of the world’s most tenacious leaders.
The importance of true collaboration and communication
Piggy-backing on the importance of leadership as it applies to executives and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, most of the enterprises in the region don’t just encourage collaborative working relationships and seamless communication, but they live and breathe it.
From five team-member incubators to the offices at Google, Silicon Valley thrives on limitless and free communication and collaboration to effectively foster the innovative ideas the region is famed for.
Silicon Valley has attracts some of the sharpest minds from across the world, with 44% of startups founded by an immigrant. These companies leverage this diversity by incorporating it into the fabric of their teams, and take advantage of the myriad vantage points their workers are coming from.
The corporate culture of Silicon Valley provides this diverse workforce with enough space to enable employees and teams to think for themselves, and make their own decisions for what to work on next.
Connecting users and engaging them
Part of what makes Silicon Valley companies so successful and innovative is that many of them choose the “think like the customer” approach, rather than “how to sell to the customer.” There is a tremendous difference between the two methods.
While the latter example is trying to figure out how to sell first, the former is figuring out what the market needs next – what other problems do people need solved, and how can they solve them for the customer. The big fish in Silicon Valley have learned that having the customer in mind through every step of the engineering process has led to products that almost sell themselves.
It is not just a mindset of “can we make make a tablet larger than our competitors?” but instead “is our customer going to want a larger tablet?” Uber was thinking about how to improve third-party transportation for customers as a whole, not just ordering a car with an app.
Even though Silicon Valley is chock full of nerds and techies (not a disparagement; we’re nerds and techies ourselves!) the end user experience is the primary concern during development of software, hardware, and marketing content.
Learn from the best, then do as the best
Now you have an insight into what makes Silicon Valley some of the most desirable real estate on the planet. It is not just a hive of great minds, but a combination of corporate culture and practices that enable the innovative ideas to quickly become tangible products.
Take these company traits we have discussed and apply them to your company. Here is a key takeaway that you can apply immediately to your enterprise: If Silicon Valley has proven one thing, it is that less can be more; the greatest talents on your team can benefit from the most freedom to innovate on their own.
And make sure to stop by and say “Hi!” next time you are in Silicon Valley. We will be thrilled to see that you’ve made it!