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Category: Innovation, Innovation Outpost, Silicon Valley

4 Steps to Discover the Silicon Valley

The question that keeps many entrepreneurs awake at night is how they can survive in an ever faster innovation cycle. Successful companies have seen their business being transformed from one day to the other. Polaroid, Nokia, Blackberry, navigation system manufacturers, media companies, have been disrupted and now the car industry is on the cusp of its biggest change in decades.

If you want to prepare yourself and better understand the mindset required for change and innovation, it may be a good idea to look at the Silicon Valley. Because the companies that disrupted the aforementioned industries came all from the most innovation region in the world. And the people here are also just boiling with water – and you can learn how they do it.

So how do you start? There are four steps that I recommend you to take:

#1 Your Mindset

Be confident about your skills. You may have great engineering skills, you know the luxury market and know about quality, you can build solid products, and you have hired great talents. At the same time you also can be humble and know that you don’t know everything and that you need to learn from best-of-breed companies. There is no need to feel defensive, but always a need to be open minded. So why not start with the Silicon Valley companies and analyze their traits and see what can be applied and combined with your strengths?

Some of the traits that Silicon Valley people show are the Power of Show Me, Words to avoid, because they kill innovation, or the 10 Traits of Successful Intrapreneurs. Each in its own is just small, but all together they may propel or kill innovation.

#2 Start Reading Up

There are quite a number of blogs and books that give you an insight into what people and companies are doing differently. Often those things may be small, but taken together they can have a huge impact.

I can recommend you some blogs that I read, and those include TechCrunch, Mashable, Harvard Business Review, or my own blog Enterprise Garage.

Books are another valuable resource. If you speak German, make sure to get my upcoming book Die Silicon-Valley-Mentalität: Was wir von den Innovationsweltmeistern lernen und mit unseren Stärken kombinieren können. It will be available in January 2016.

But then I read and recommend those books to get you started:

Most of those books may be even translated an available in your own language. At least for German I know that at least half of them have been translated. Check if the books are available in your language, if not, get cozy with some evenings of reading an English book.

#3 Visit Silicon Valley

Then comes the time when you should go from the theoretical aspect to a very inspirational tour and come visit Silicon Valley. I together with my pal Niki Ernst organize such tours where we meet startup founders, investors, and corporate people from the famous or uprising new Silicon Valley companies, visit co-working spaces, maker spaces, meetups, and important points in the history of the valley here. This is not a tourist tour where we go and take pictures with startup-founders like we were in a zoo. You need to bring an open mind, honest interest in the stories of the people, and display energy. We always get great feedback from tour participants for many of whom it was life-changing.

When you are here, you should consider attending meetups and meeting people around topics that you find interesting – or better yet – that you have no clue about. Alone 300 software engineering meetup groups are organized in the Silicon Valley. Maybe you find your very own Google Glass or drone meetup, or the one on marketing with robots that you always wanted to attend.

And then check out a hackathons. Those are great to live the spirit and – who knows – you create with some new friends the next billion dollar product and company, just because you attended a weekend hackathon.

Check out our website Silicon Valley Inspiration Tours for more information and many pictures that give you a great insight in how this looks like.

#4 Innovation Outpost

Once you have visited Silicon Valley, you may have a much better understanding of the workings, the energy, and the spirit that dominates here. When you can afford and see a need for it, now may be the time to consider opening your own local office here. This can be one person or a small team that ideally includes a board or founding member.

We call those local offices Innovation Outpost. Many companies have such offices here with the goal to be closer to where a lot of disruptive innovation happens and scout trends and companies early on, but also to learn about the spirit and innovation methodologies that can be infused in your own organization.

I am in! What Now?

I can help you with such an innovation outpost and with learning more about Silicon Valley’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit. Contact me if you want to learn more.