Three Things Every Company In Any Industry Should Borrow From Silicon Valley29 March, 2018 / Articles
The words “Silicon Valley” are no longer reserved for describing a region in California known for its techy people and awesome office perks; it is now a term synonymous with innovation and business success. In fact, it expands past the physical Silicon Valley to other places in the world like New York, Seattle, London, Berlin and Dublin — all places with that “Silicon Valley-ness” that makes some of them not only special, but enduringly successful.
While no company — Silicon Valley-based or not — is perfect, there are three things that traditional companies can learn and adopt from these industry players and incorporate for their own organizational success.
- Agility Built Into Everything
One of the reasons for the success of these companies is their ability to change, reinvent, learn and adapt quickly. This is table stakes behavior for the Silicon Valley-type of organization. Rather than the slow churn that happens in a lot of traditional businesses, nimbleness is a part of the fabric of a Silicon Valley company. Like traditional businesses, they operate with a focused business strategy, but the difference is that they build simplified processes and are clear on decision making at all levels from the get-go. This allows the organizations and leadership to be more agile and quick to refocus if the market shifts.
- Innovation = Survival
We all have heard the horror stories of companies that failed because they did not innovate. It is not a new thing, and some of them could have been avoided. Companies like Blockbuster and Borders Books, well, they didn’t have to fail. While they enjoyed tremendous success for years, they failed to think about the future, what was happening around them and how to evolve with it, allowing companies like Netflix and Amazon to flourish and dominate their market. The successful Silicon Valley-type companies continually evolve and have their finger on the pulse of their customers and/or market. Here, innovation equates to longevity and relevancy.
Innovation is a way of life, a way of constantly reinventing and solving problems before the problems become known. Traditional companies could benefit from adopting this innovation mindset. You don’t need to be in the technology space to innovate. Innovation comes in and can be applied to many workflows. Traditional organizations’ leaders may worry about the inherent risk of innovation, which may keep them from adopting this mindset. The good news, you don’t need the “fail fast” mentality to extend to all parts of your business to be a successful innovator. Use your business strategy as your guide and start questioning where and how innovation can help your company win.
- Culture Is Key
Ask any CEO in Silicon Valley and they’ll tell you that their people are the company’s greatest asset. Having the best people is part of their business strategy — they count on it. They are constantly working on evolving and building enviable cultures that help them retain and attract the very best. This is all by design and usually tied to corporate strategy. They are upfront about the culture and what it’s like to work there. If they have a game room or encourage people to get away from their work for a bit during the day, it’s because they understand that short “brain breaks” are going to help recharge workers, build relationships between colleagues, increase productivity and encourage employees to come back each day.
Worth noting, keeping employees coming back each day is more difficult for Silicon Valley-type companies. Some of the top organizations see an average employee tenure of fewer than two years. More and more industries are also starting to see this a downward trend in tenure with an average of about four years of service. Silicon Valley companies embrace this trend and use it to their advantage. They understand that when people leave, it opens up the door for new, fresh thinking to enter.
It’s not realistic to think that traditional organizations can morph into Silicon Valley companies, but they can learn from them, adapt and evolve some of their traditional thinking and processes to be more agile and innovative. Be inspired by what’s working within Silicon Valley-type companies to lead your teams to continue to survive, thrive and increase market share.