This week, I’ve played host to the International MBA program of Adolfo Ibanez and Deusto Universities, immersing 33 students, faculty and staff from Spanish-speaking countries in the culture of Silicon Valley. So, you might forgive me for being a bit behind on my reading. Fortunately, they are catching up on classwork this afternoon, so I can catch up on ideas.
My life has a funny way of putting something on my radar in a quick succession of blips. This week, it was the University of Michigan, beginning with a story about Manish Parikh and election to student government president on a platform of entrepreneurship. The next day, I met Ryan Stenson, a recent Michigan MBA graduate who raved the university’s focus on entrepreneurship in both its business (academic approach) and engineering (hands-on approach) schools. (By the way, Ryan’s got an interesting mix of engineering, business, and project management experience and has moved to San Francisco to find a job with a growing startup, so if you’re hiring . . . ) The next day, I learned that the very same engineering school that Ryan was raving the night before is seeking a new executive director for its entrepreneurship program. (Email me if you want details.)
Hosting an MBA class has the added benefit of getting a close-up look at the innovation practices of Silicon Valley companies, emerging and established. This week, the students visited GetSatisfaction, IDEO, Google, and Intuit, and heard from The Milestone Group to learn how these companies foster an innovation mindset. But what about the smaller or emerging businesses or even individuals that don’t have innovation learning frameworks in place? Elizabeth Gebhardt posited an idea that could be the corporate innovation university for the rest of us.
I was shocked to read about the wave of “dishonesty spreading through Silicon Valley” in this article that promotes the protocol for a handshake deal proposed by Y Combinator founder Paul Graham. Silicon Valley, Graham suggests, is
is not a closed community of pros who deal with one another day after day. Many participants in the funding market are noobs, and some are dishonest.
Hmm. Maybe we’re not working in the same Silicon Valley. In my experience, word spreads pretty quickly when reputation and integrity are compromised. Perhaps what Graham really means to counter is the new wave of shallowness that has washed parts of Silicon Valley in naivete.
Most of all, I’ve been doing my homework so that I’m ready to work with 11 incredible startups and their founders on voyage of global impact. Next Wednesday, I head to South Africa to embark on a journey that can only be described as “unreasonable.”