IMD EMBA Silicon Valley Expedition Day 3
Tuesday Sept 16
We started the day by one interactive panel session on Human Ressources and one talk about Intellectual Property.
A great panel composed of five very experienced Human Ressource directors. They started answering a question about innovation in HR. Innovation comes with pressure. It is about anticipating what is going to happen in human forces. Companies that will succeed innovate. It is about magic ingredients to get creation. It is about how do we redesign an organization, a strategy. They talked about examples offering 4 days a week workload, sabbatical programs. How do companies continue innovating: very difficult task. For instance, Google has hit a wall for the last 6 months. It is about company life cycle.
How to get the nature of a person in an interview? One important trend is about distant management, distant recruity strategy. It is always very important to have face to face meetings when recruiting even with the most beautiful visio-conferencing technology. so:
- physically in the same room
- process dynamics of energy
- ask about past, how did they do (event, facts) and not about future
- capacity to innovation (past behaviour): tell me an event where you dod not follow the rule, when you were not innovative?
- variety of people attending the recruitment.
- Focus on the underlying: how do they make decisions. Important to be yourself, speakn the truth about who you are, what you learnt about mistakes.
Another question was about leaders moving from one industry to another. It is not just about high tech: there are many activities: sales, finance, HR, communications. They usually employed the term of “cultural fit” to hire the right person. When they hire a leader, the expect her/him to be very quick at picking up ideas (inherited intelligence). Good executive leaders have a clarity of focus, clear goals, getting excieted, getting aligned. Great leaders do not come with answer but with questions to their teams. They make sure the leaders can learn, it is the value creation function.
What about HR when there is a large demand. Then, they have to do compromise. Leaders should be “truth teller”. Something important is to build a good quality relationship between HR and CEO and the board.
About start-up and HR. Start-up is about passion, freshly done, living in chaos. It is usually good to have complementary of co-founders, a true synergy model. Silicon Valley is 10’000 start-ups: how to get attention? Start-up message when recruiting: it is nothing but hope (including networking) and expectation. When recruiting, how critical can be the questions? As long as it stays objective, very simple, it is no problem. For instance, how do people work with you? An important question in order to get to know better the person is “what type of people according to you succed (and respectively fail)?
What behaviour to they expect from sesnior position? Get the results done, getting an estimate of the energy level, quick thinking, fast pace, they should like deals with ambiguity. Do they trust people, are they good at asking questions? HR deals with cultural fit of one person in a environment. It is about how to reward people: intellectul and monetary value.
Intellectual property by Marty Lagod.
- Copyrights: fixed, tangible, you do not copyright ideas but expressions of ideas. Ex: books, movies, music. The holder has the right to reproduce, distribute. Microsoft versus McIntosh story of windows.
- Trademark: Word, symbols, design that identifies companies and distinguish from others. Coca-Cola -> Lifestyle. Intel 386 versus AMD 386: Intel lost the case. 586 was named Pentium and the “Intel Inside” strategy: they recovered from that loss.
- Trade secret: something has value because it is a secret. It can be a manufacturing process, formlua, customer list, not reversed engineering, confidentiality.
- Patent: New, novel, non-obvious. Right to exclude others that make or use this invention.
There was a question about how universities publish? They have a technology transfer office. Best lawyers ensure quality. Websites are copyright protected. Algorithms cannot be patented but application of algorithms can be patented.
Then the day was about visiting established companies.
Visit at SUN microsystems: Excellent talk given by Scott McNealy, Chairman & Co-Founder. He was introduced to IMD through Piet Van Haute who is working at Sun Switzerland. I put below a series of idea which are certainly not organized.
“Free is the new black” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ The_new_black). According to Scott McNealy, when starting a new company knowing too much can slow down the process. Start-up people: not married, should not have a lot of money, free. Importance of entering the market from a corner of the map. SUN has been 20 years CASH positive.
Be controversial (different), be correct. Differentiate through a unique strategy. No pricing power result in in no profit. Break the rules of business but not the law. Compared to Oracle which is very big and buying everyone else, SUN went to Open-source: pretty unique strategy, non conventional wisdom. SUN introduced TCP-IP, Token ring, NFS, Unix, Java, MySQL. 1.9 million of download a week of OpenOffice. SUN is about Desktop, servers, storage, services. Cost of acquisition of customer = 0. Google model: Search free – advertising while SUN model: code free – selling servers.
IP matters at SUN: 14’000+ patents. SUN cloud computing is used by Yahoo!, eBay, Facebook, Myspace. Grid computing: starting using computers that you don’t know. SUN’s cause is to eliminate the digital divide, managing humans, higher order to communities. Sharing at work: www.curriki.com a Global Education & Learning Community. OpenMBA: SUN— (Klewel)—IMD. Importance of distant learning. Entrepreneurs today? Kids starting in high school. A start-up like Fotolog is SUN-base: java, Sparc, solaris-based. It is amazing how the market is changing. According to Scott McNealy, it is amazing how the market is changing, he thinks that leaders are born leaders. His ideas is to drive their wisdom up.
Visit at Adobe headquarters, San Jose:
We then went to San Jose to visit Adobe headquarters. We watched a movie presenting the history of Adobe. Adobe started with Page Description Language, from the language screen to the printer. InterPress, Postscript, and then PageMaker. Their real value is in the software.
They developed the firstz product and convinced the market of its value. Went public in 1986. Then the story that we know: Photoshop, Dreamwaver, Acrobat PDF, Flash. The two co-founders combined their strenghts but were not really complementary. They focused on innovation: thinking far away. After SUN, they are also talking about bridging the digital divide. What are the main challenges? Hard work, Adobe has many products, set the bar high (best talent in high tech and management, equally passionate), a lot of competition. Adobe moved to India: 50’000 graduates from great schools in India, low cost. They both access to market opportunities and access to talents.
They have a good relationship with Stanford: college hiring is important: next generation of users, new talents, different prospectives. Programme for professors in Graphics, image processing, dynamic media. Never stop innovation. Use community. Respect competitors. Their customers: creative professional, knowledge workers, enterprises. Next trends are about computer-based agents. They have a programme on early-stage investment. They engage their customers through blogs, big conference Adobe MAX, trade shows to sustain engagement.
The picture was taken a few days later at the Adobe CS4 Product Launch in San Francisco. The person on the picture is a journalist for streaming media and PC magazine, whom I met with Tim Siglin, a consultant in video conferencing industry.
Visit at Intel:
We visited first the museum. Then we had a very interesting presentation by Gary Wiseman, PhD from MIT, MBA’94 at IMD, worked for Raychem in the Valley, then moved to LightLogic, which was subsequently acquired by Intel. Everything is not only about success in the valley.