Our week in San Francisco (II)

Escrito el 23 Mayo 2007 por Ricardo Pérez Garrido en Educación / Education

Our second day in San Francisco was a mix of conferences and a visit to Sun Microsystem’s headquarters. For the conferences we had the opportunity to talk about the innovation process and its link with regional clusters with Marco Marinucci, IE Alumni working for Google and dealing mainly with content acquisition activities for the company; Philipp Stauffer, a member of the Strategy group with Accenture at their offices in San Francisco, and finally Robert Winder, in charge of innovation for Genesys, the leader in technology solutions for call centers in the telecom industry.

The first part of the morning was devoted to understanding what is special in terms of the working, social and cultural environment about the region we call Silicon Valley. Marco and Philipp helped us in that effort, both of them being Europeans attracted to the area either by and entrepreneurial spirit -the case of Marco- or by the great professional opportunities that come when you are very successful in a multinational consulting company helping others build what is differential about the region – the case of Philip. The fact that Marco is also an IE alumnus created a strong connection with the group which helped the conversation. The discussion ranged from the work ethics of the long hours to the myths and realities of the garage companies, and one of the ideas that was mentioned several times during the week kept being part of the conversation: the approach to risk by individuals, organizations and, most of all, the venture capital money funding all the entrepreneurship going on. We have discussed this issue here several times before, but it still strikes me as one of the key competitive advantages that countries can build: what happens when you fail? The rule is: if you fail, at least you tried and now you have the experience, try again. The approach is quite different from many cultures and countries. Their vision helped us understand some of the big issues behind the success of the ecosystem: work mobility, pool of talent, access to funds, low aversion to risk, a push to share ideas, world class universities in the area… difficult to find in the same place at the same time, and a big force to create and develop ideas and products that change entire industries.

With Robert we changed gears towards a specific example: Genesys. The industry might seem boring, but they actually redefined it, helping companies understand in a different way what they could do with their call centers. This approach, based on innovation and knowledge of the industry, has been so successful that they are by far world leaders in their industry and expanding to other rapidly. The passion of Robert for finding new ideas and new talent was a reflection of the type of approach that companies need to create if they want to really do “different” things.

After lunch we moved on to visit Sun Microsystems, interested in listening to their approach to the market after several years of being in trouble… but that will be the subject of a different post.


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