leadership secrets from Silicon Valley


Here is a summary of Silicon Valley’s success secrets:

* Failure tolerated. “Bankruptcy” in The Valley, Mickelthwaite writes, “is treated like a dueling scar in a Prussian officer’s mess.” Another Valley commentator, Michael Malone, offers his own version of this: “Failure is Silicon Valley’s No. 1 strength.” Amen!

* Treachery tolerated. Jumping from company to company . . .swapping secrets over brews or the latest-release Chardonnay . .. or across the Nautilus machines . . . The Valley is not the home to traditional loyalty. The ideas flow . . . and flow. Such Brownian motion is one of its success keys.

* Risk seeking.

* Reinvestment. The enormous positive cash flow generated in The Valley is . . . by and large . . . returned in reinvestments in new enterprises.

* Enthusiasm for change. “Only the paranoid survive” is the fabled tradition, associated with those words by Intel’s legendary chairman Andy Grove. Cannibalization is key . . . remember the word according to Hewlett-Packard chairman Lew Platt. “Obsolete ourselves or the competition will” — that’s the way Mickelthwaite puts it.

* Promotion on merit. There is substantial “openness to immigrants and to women,” Mickelthwaite writes at one point. Understatement!

* Obsession with the product. The Valley, Mickelthwaite says, is hooked on “the cool idea.” (That is, the latest cool idea.) The No. 1 characteristic of long-term innovators, according to a major study, is that they are “in love with their product.” The “it” is it . . . in The Valley.

* Collaboration. The answer: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Add your new (hopefully big) twist and quickly blend with tested bits borrowed from anyone and everyone.

* Variety.

* Anybody can play.


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