Every year, thousands of companies send their employees to Silicon Valley to visit start-ups and enterprises. They’re hoping these employees can understand and absorb some of the innovation magic and energy here and disseminate it throughout the rest of their organization. Some companies even establish permanent company outposts to have a constant pulse on emerging trends and start-up themes. But what is it that we really know about innovation here in the Bay Area? Well, a great deal of its power comes from blending diversity with resources and education. Which is a recipe for creating this kind of energy anywhere in almost any organization.
Start by investing resources in change.
Over 40% of all US venture funding is concentrated in the Bay Area. That means lots of new ideas (even risky ones) are in a marketplace where they can get some runway to prove themselves. If you start putting some real money (and time) into testing out new concepts by gathering feedback, developing new prototypes, and combining ideas, you might get more disruptive (and profitable) ideas to grow in your own organization. Of course, not every VC bet pays off, so you’ve got to try lots of new notions in order to get a return on some of them.
Build up and encourage diversity.
SF leads the trend that shows that every major tech hub has more foreign-born workers than domestic ones. In San Francisco, 82% of the population is from out-of-state or foreign-born. But this validates innovation findings that show how combining ideas (even ones that appear to be in conflict) creates higher quality ideas. Companies with higher rates of diversity are 45% more likely to report that their firm’s market share grew over the previous year and 70% more likely to report that the firm captured a new market.
It helps to have access to education.
According to Times Higher Education, California boasts six out of the top 25 universities globally (three just in the Bay Area: Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UCSF). These serve as starting points for new ideas as well as hotbeds for attracting top talent and thinkers from around the globe. Fostering education and investing in those who want to learn creates an energy that is always looking for a new intellectual frontier.
Now… build connections.
In our conversations with Chief Innovation Officers, their primary job is to build connections: between ideas, between resources and researchers, between emerging themes and company capabilities. When you’re a start-up with fifty or fewer employees – creating connections is pretty easy. But when you’re a global company with thousands of employees, that job is more challenging. Diversity, resources, and education aren’t the answer on their own, you need to find ways to build those connections between ideas at scale….
So, we’d still tell you to come visit us here in Bay Area. We’ll show you around to different start-ups and give you a taste of some great weather, but you can start by creating a more innovative work environment today by following the major tenets outlined here.