Silicon Valley's Culture of Innovation
Representing the centre of technological innovation, Silicon Valley's influences go beyond the technology it creates, holding a workspace culture and environment inspiring the next generation.
Silicon Valley represents the centre of technological innovation, home to global corporations such as Facebook, Google and Apple. But its influences go beyond the technology it creates and programs. The creative attitudes and innovation that thrive in Silicon Valley holds the key to future success. It holds a workspace culture and environment that can inspire the next generation.
A brief history
It was the race to get the first man on the moon which ignited Silicon Valley’s innovative, risk-taking culture. Following NASA’s creation in 1958, high-powered components needed to be developed quickly in order to put the first man of the moon. Fulfilling this was Fairchild Semiconductor, which was founded in the bay area in San Francisco. This seminal event ignited Silicon Valley’s culture of innovation. Huge technology innovations such as Intel and AMS spawned from Fairchild Semiconductor’s example and Silicon Valley was born.
What makes it successful?
Silicon Valley breeds creativity; the attitudes and values it holds go a long way to explaining its innovative identity. The determination and work ethic of these companies combined with their technological expertise creates this thriving environment. A study found that their ‘day-to-day determination to see something through, despite near constant failure’ stood out. A mixture of employee collaboration, whilst maintaining strong leadership is also crucial. Leaders in Silicon Valley have a definite vision of their goals and have an ability to build organisations round this, attracting top talent at the same time. However, these companies also foster collaboration, encouraged through a culture of open plan office spaces and breakout areas. Employees are invited to self-organise, and to collaborate with co-workers throughout the hierarchal structure. This is done by habit, not by exception.
Workspaces in Silicon Valley are often an extension of their company’s innovative brand. Different zones within an open plan office space are used, with a mixture collaborative breakout spaces and quality private work booths. Agile working is encouraged, and the modular features of the workspaces are built around this. These creativity boosting features reflect the work hard, play hard environment of Silicon Valley. It can be argued that these workspaces both influenced and fitted in perfectly with the culture of innovation in Silicon Valley.
This culture of innovation attracts and retains the best talent. But what are the logistics behind the amount of success stories in Silicon Valley? It finds itself in a unique position, as a junction point for academia, the private sector and the US government. The converge of these three sectors come together to create an environment unlike any other. Stanford University and Berkley stand at the epicentre of the valley. A constant stream of enthusiastic entrepreneurs and the finest technology minds are already inside its sphere of influence. Therefore, it is little surprise that so many start-ups develop and thrive in Silicon Valley, especially considering the relaxed Californian business laws.
Silicon Valley and neighbouring San Francisco, is an attractive destination for investors and entrepreneurs. The world-class hotels, popular restaurants, sports teams and entertainment drives business towards the region. This makes it easy to bring investors and clients into the city. As many of the residents classify themselves as early adopters of new trends, it also presents the perfect opportunity to test new products.
The past success stories are cemented in the present attitudes. If entrepreneurs are surrounded by this success, it implements creativity-boosting attitudes and makes it easier to imagine victories for themselves. Technology entrepreneurs will surely be inspired by rubbing shoulders with industry giants such as Apple and Facebook.
Finally, the amount of personal and institutional wealth makes Silicon Valley the perfect location for business growth. Thousands of investors are looking to put their money into start-ups, with hope that the area’s innovative reputation will result in high sources of revenue. The sheer volume of investors means there is an increased chance of financial support. If you are turned away by one investor, there are hundreds more waiting. The location, history, resources and culture of Silicon Valley enable it to provide the perfect opportunity for start-up success. The opportunities the valley provides and the innovative culture it represents, makes it a truly individual location.
What can we learn?
The influence of Silicon Valley is so prominent that it has become a hot spot for tourists. Tour companies are now offering close up views of Google, Facebook and Apple’s workspaces. Businesses around the world have been influenced too. Successive clusters of start-ups have emerged all over world, so many that Slate magazine created a map listing all the places dubbed ‘the new Silicon Valley’.
But what can be learnt from the Silicon Valley model?
1. Talent attraction and retention is pivotal to any businesses success. Seeking locations where talent is readily available makes sense. Major universities, with reputations in Science and engineering, would be a good starting point.
2. Working with these institutions to develop the necessary technical and entrepreneurship skills can secure the supply of talent.
3. Having built a reputation as an innovative and collaborative environment, Silicon Valley then boosted the next generation of talent. Its workspace and office culture was central to this. Personalised workspaces, which brings together collaboration and private working epitomises the culture of innovation in Silicon Valley. These extensions of the company brand appealed to investors and employees alike.