Thursday, February 27, 2014

Will Silicon Valley ever grow up?

Silicon Valley is dominated by companies that are innovative, fast growing, ambitious and intense. They face the need to be efficient, keep growing and stay ahead of newer competitors. Yet, these challenges have been faced by companies for hundreds of years. Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Harley Procter had to overcome them long ago. They did. Procter and Gamble is over 180 years old. Ford Motor is almost 100 years old. Many companies in Silicon Valley act as though they are the first organizations to have to deal with these old issues in Management. They tend to spend much effort and relatively little time (shooting from the hip) in re-inventing the wheel. So you get stupid interview questions such as: "how many golf balls fit inside an airliner?" Decision and implementation processes are not thought through and are sometimes ill conceived. Executives at all levels in many companies have not experienced being in a more mature, effective company. There are exceptions, such as Intuit, of course, but too many are unlikely to last a fraction as long as P&G.

Yet, until Silicon Valley does develop some maturity and balance, there will continue to be cycles, poor predictability, and bubbles. The smart companies make sure that they hire experienced executives, even from outside the industry. They also make sure that they have the processes and thinking such as that required to get on a Best Place to Work list.

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