I work with lots of companies in lots of industries around the world. So I get asked - a lot - why I use so many examples from tech…especially given that comparatively few of my clients are pure-play technology companies.
Well, I explain, there are three reasons:
First: Success comes from bringing alternative thinking and solutions to the same problems that have been effecting you and/or your organization to that point.
Technology companies love to promote themselves. So do technology people. They tell lots of stories about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, what they’re thinking about doing and what they’ve stopped doing because it doesn’t make sense anymore.
With that amount of disclosure available as a learning tool, it makes sense to pay attention and bring that thinking to my clients…who, to that point, aren’t thinking that way.
Second: The tech industry is not only built on failure, it celebrates it.
As far as everyone who’s anyone in tech is concerned, if you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried - which means the only way to succeed is to build on your failures and turn them into successes.
As Fred Wilson, the Managing Partner of Union Square Ventures, said in a recent presentation at the MIT Sloan School of Management:
Truer words have never been spoken.
Third: Among technology types, there are no limits.
It may sound hokey or even pretentious to the rest of us when tech-types say they’re going to “change the world” - but it’s not. Especially not to them.
In the world of technology - a science-based world, when all is said and done - the only limits that exist are the ones that exist now. The goal is to find out where those limits lie and, using vision, dissatisfaction with what is and intrepid perseverance, saying “nuh-uh” to those limits continuing to exist.
No internet availability across an entire continent? Put balloons in the air that provide connectivity…and then improve from there. (Google/Facebook)
Rural area deliveries too expensive and too slow to fulfill the customers’ needs? Create drone delivery services. (Amazon/Walmart/Alibaba/JD.com)
Want to change traffic patterns, space utilization, environmental impact…and give customers the opportunity to go out partying without worrying about traffic violations or drink-drive accidents? Develop a car-hailing service app that costs customers about a third less than taking a taxi. (Uber/Lyft/Didi Chuxing)
Okay, my clients say. I get it - but I’m still not in tech…so what does this have to do with me?
Here’s what I tell them:
Silicon Valley is as much a mindset as it is a geographic location and industry ecosystem.
I also tell them:
Unless and until you develop and bring that “Valley” mindset to everything you do - particularly on failure and limits - you will never succeed to the extent that you want or are able.
Can you? Of course you can.
Will you? That’s up to you.
The Steve Jobs Series: Innovation (For All Levels)
Building Continuous Innovation: Four Key Strategies (For Managers, Executives and Business Owners)