Book Review: Rainforest – The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley

August 22, 2012

The Rainforest
The Rainforest was recommended to me by my friend Enoch Choi who lives in Silicon Valley. The book has a fresh perspective on Silicon Valley pointing out the affect of the western pioneer spirit on California in general and the Valley in specific. A spirit of independence and willingness to take risks is proposed as a basis for the unique entrepreneurial direction of the Valley. The book uses several summaries of principles, such as, extra-rational motivations and “err, fail, persist”, what stood out to me were two themes which may sound contradictory: Rule breaking and Trust. This quote about rule breaking sums it up:

“For the Rainforest to thrive, people must accept that rule breaking and believing in grand aspirations are acceptable forms of social behavior. They enable someone to believe that what was previously been considered impossible is in fact possible.” And regarding trust: “the willingness to take the initiative to trust others” and “demonstrate the transparency of its motivations as part of its routine transactions.”

Although the rainforest analogy seems to go to far at times, the concept of enabling international collaboration is right on. The book makes a strong case for the unique environment which spawns innovation in the Valley and questions the ability of many cities and regions which would like to foster innovation and new companies to do so without that unique environment. One exception Cleveland Clinic which has not only generated multiple patents and spin offs but also is now showing other health care organizations how to commercialize their intellectual property.

If you don’t have time to read the book, check out the white paper or the Global Innovation Summit.

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