What we can learn from the Silicon Valley mind-set

  1. Contemplation on the chances and the possibilities of apparently utopian projects in place of fear of failure

One reason why the Europeans deliberated so long on the development of social media is due to their critical sentiments vis-à-vis technology.

The principle “Trial & Error” governs in Silicon Valley. One point which is often overlooked: 90% of all start-ups fail at various stages in Silicon Valley. This demands considerable resilience on the part of founders and a high readiness to assume risk amongst companies and investors. Even at the top management level, mistakes in judgment and false decisions are often discussed and reflected upon instead of attempting covering up and seeking culprits, which is often the case in traditional organisations.

Larry Page holds weekly 1 ½ hour meetings with his employees at Mountain View during which he reports on successes and on problems needing solutions.

  1. Ideas develop in eco-systems to become marketable products

Google has more groups than employees. How is this possible?  Nearly all employees work in more than one group because only cooperation within those often silo like areas enables the product to remain in focus.

Even for the start-up founder, networking is paramount. They meet in cafes, accept private invitations, attend conferences and constantly exchange experiences. We were witnesses to the manner in which eco-systems function in the garden of Satchiv Cahil, that Silicon Valley legend and former vice president at Apple. Satchiv Cahil was advising a founder who had invented a hearing aid which could be hidden in a lady’s ear clip. Much to our surprise he recommended a well known Austrian company as manufacturer, the owners which whom he was acquainted.

  1. Only the best are good enough

Just to become accepted for a practicum at Apple, one gets subjected to 7 interviews; for a position at Google one must endure 9 interviews. Then the candidate gets tested in his/her ability to think unconventionally. They refrain now from asking tricky questions, such as “Should you get the order to clean the windows on all of New York’s skyscrapers, how many workers would you require?”, and concentrate more on solving actual problems. Should the team decide that the candidate qualifies, then a motivating corporate culture and welfare package beckons.

Most important, however, is the feeling that one belongs to the elite. Leading corporations vie to recruit computer science graduates by offering annual salaries starting at $ 200,000.–. In the past young people who felt they needed to change the world took up politics or journalism. Today they choose computer science and programming.

  1. Esteem is defined by proven success – putting on airs is taboo

In and around Silicon Valley, one of the wealthiest areas in the world, no Bentleys, Ferraris or Lamborghinis are to be seen, only an occasional Aston Martin, the so-called luxury make of the understatement. Instead, a high density of Teslas prevails.

As Vice President of Apple, the most valuable company in the world, John Couch’s office is plain and simple. Inaccessible top management floors are unknown here. Even the internet billionaires reside in relatively modest homes, although they are extremely expensive.

What counts is the measurable success which radiates through innovation, such as with Tesla, or simply by the size of the market value of the company.