The Secret Sauce of Silicon Valley

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Tina Seelig told Press:Here that she teaches creativity at Stanford's Department of Management Science and Engineering, and that it's easy to do.

"I've spent 15 years teaching creativity and entrepreneurship," she said. "What I focus on are the actions and the attitudes... There's a mindset at different stages of the process."

Seelig, who is also the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, has also written a book about that creative process called Insight Out. In the book she tries to educate readers about how to have a more creative business where creative workers can take risks. 

"One of the simplest things (from the book) is that people respond to rules, rewards and recognition," she said. "If you basically demonstrate that people aren’t going to be punished for trying big new ideas, they’re going to try new big ideas."

The problem is that once highly-creative startups often slow innovation as they grow. "I think that's the problem with huge companies -- that they become risk-averse," she said.

Instead, companies have to let their employees fail as part of the process. That's one of the reasons that so many companies from all industries may be placing research labs in Silicon Valley; it's one of the few places that failure isn't necessarily a death sentence.

"They're trying to absorb the culture, aren't they?" Seelig said about many companies, such as Ford and Samsung, that have recently opened their labs in Silicon Valley. "They're trying to figure out, 'OK, what's the secret sauce of Silicon Valley?'"

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