- Adapt the Silicon Valley model!

Julie Hanna, investor, rådgiver, bl a for president Obama

Norway is one of the most innovate countries I know. Incredible innovation emerges from every corner of the country, building on regional strengths. What’s relevant about the Silicon Valley model is the mindset and methodology that’s given way to high growth, global scale technology companies. 

In Silicon Valley we “think global and act local”. From the earliest stages, we think about global relevance - how can this work for the entire planet? We iterate and experiment until we have a minimally viable version of our product. We focus on finding product/market fit on a small, often hyper-local basis, before investing in scale. This is one reason why you see Silicon Valley companies seemingly come out of nowhere and reach global scale quickly.

Marrying key aspects of this model with Norway’s regional strengths to develop a unique playbook that is unique can result in a key advantage.

Be bold

In Silicon Valley we celebrate bold thinking. Entrepreneurs dare to think that they will build a world-changing company. It’s this kind of aspiration that results in entrepreneurs doing just that.

This way of thinking may run counter to traditional Norwegian cultural values and attitudes.

For example, it could be viewed as arrogant or trigger the sentiment “who do you think you are - thinking so confidently and highly of your own ideas and opinions?”. 

Some of the things I admire most about Nordic culture are the egalitarian values that believe in equality of all. Perhaps the most important way that we are equal is that we are all exceptional human beings in very unique ways. Celebrating this aspect of our equality can be a way for honor these important cultural values, while also encouraging Norwegian entrepreneurs to dream boldly about the future they want to live in. In a world where we are faced with threats to our very existence, boldness in innovation is our greatest hope for surviving and thriving on the planet we share.

Dare to fail

The Silicon Valley attitude toward failure is that it’s an important stepping stone to success. Perhaps best embodied in Thomas Edison’ words, “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We view failure like scientists view failed outcomes; as an experiment didn't work, not that the person is a failure. Failure is not stigmatized in that way.

There is relentlessness about learning and experimentation. We keep iterating until we find success, which is why we often say that entrepreneurship and innovation are ultimately a game of persistence & taking calculated risks.

Sharing is Daring

Another key aspect of the Silicon Valley mindset is open sharing and building trusted-based relationships and networks. We view this as a powerful model for accelerating our individual and collective success as opposed to creating vulnerability.

It’s possible this mindset collides with long held cultural values of self-reliance in Norway. This is also historically true in many parts of the world. Humankind has long known that knowledge is power. Traditionally, our tendency has been to protect, even hoard, knowledge as a way of gaining advantage.

In Silicon Valley, we found that rapid and open sharing within a tightly networked eco-system had tremendous advantage. We learned that by helping each other, we are contributing to collective success and this is ultimately the fastest way to accelerate our own success. This is where expressions like “pay it forward” come from.

Clusters play an important role because they create a space for serendipity to occur and where entrepreneurs and companies can share knowledge and experiences. This is reinforced when clusters use their position to connect their companies to global innovation hubs like Silicon Valley.

Creating a local ecosystem

Local eco-systems of support and resources made up of seed investors, advisors, mentors and other entrepreneurs have been vitally important to Silicon Valley’s success. Amplifying role models of success has helped grow this eco-system over time. These same factors apply to any region in the world, including Norway. Clusters can play a uniquely important role in nurturing the development of these eco-systems.

Highly entrepreneurial

Norway is a highly innovative and entrepreneurial country with unique regional strengths that are globally relevant. These cultural roots make for a powerful foundation. I fundamentally believe that marrying these advantages with the mindset and methodologies that have been successful in Silicon Valley is a key to success. The result will be a unique playbook for building high growth, globally impactful companies. It’s exciting to think about the potential.

Signert; Julie Hanna, Entreprenær, rådgiver, investor, styremedlem, Kiva og rådgiver for president Obama - 16. desember 2015