Diversity and Speed, main ingredients. Add Optimism on top of that.

While diving into the mindset of Silicon Valley you would probably want to extract its quintessence. And, as it is difficult for any unique thing in the world, so is here. However, I tried to summarize some thoughts from last days’ meetings.

Cultural diversity is an asset

Around 40% from Silicon Valley inhabitants are not US born! This is a tangible characteristic that raise a serious question mark for an European society so concerned with national myths, which try to limit free movement of people and labor force and which is shocked by the refugee flow. Here in SV, people see this in an opposite way: this ethnic and cultural diversity is an important asset.

The ideas are not so important, more important is the team behind the project. In this context it is therefore critical to be able to connect people from different environments” – says a venture capital specialist from SV. ”The Valley is a huge network. The question is nowadays not to have a better network, the question is to have a bigger one!” – continues Dr. William Cockayne, Stanford professor. 

Speed of execution is critical

Innovation happens everywhere. But the capacity to apply innovation, and to scale it globally, not. “We, Silicon Valley, are actually best at applying innovation at a global scale” – says Benjamin Levy, co-founder of Bootstrap Labs, a venture platform dedicated to Artificial Intelligence.

AI is the next industrial revolution. And it is happening under our eyes. Each corporation can probably discover a multi-million dollars opportunity within a few months of applying simple Machine Learning techniques. “Think of the 20/80 rules. And apply ML at it” continues Benjamin. Simple, fast, yet highly effective.

State of mind: Optimism

Do you know why you fail or you do not succeed in Europe? Because you are paid with salaries. Never somebody paid with salaries (regardless of her/his bonuses system) will be an entrepreneur.” –says another Silicon Valley VC specialist. This is highly connected also to the American mind set of being optimistic. Here, entrepreneurship + optimism are the main ingredients for success.

And there are also other characteristics lacking in our European psychological common mind: we do not think globally from the beginning and we do not have the experience of scaling our product or ideas globally - usually we address our national markets, expanding eventually in Europe. Last, but not least, being and old and traditional culture, there is a limited number of early adopters in our European societies. ”An American is prepared to accept a new product when it is 70% ready while a German accepts it when it is 130% ready” - remarks the same VC specialist.

Therefore, changing our European psychology and state of mind would be the first prerequisite for global innovation, followed by openness to diversity and speed of execution.

Author: Mihai Svasta, Innovation & Change Consultant, Managing Partner of ICG Integrated Consulting Group