Finnish Cuckoo in Palo Alto

Author: Mika Tanner, CEO, Bilot


At the helm of a successful IT company, I am exposed to a lot of technological breakthroughs and a large number of successful companies who we are helping navigate their way towards a more digitally enabled business.

By We, I mean the all the talented professionals who Stand For More at the customer – frankly it is humbling. Business is running smoothly and the outlook is promising so more than ever, it is important to have some sort of peripheral vision and try to see beyond the horizon, have your ear on the ground to predict possible stampedes.

“Talk about a dream, try to make it real” – Bruce Springsteen

INTERNALIZATION & IMMERSION

Whether it is war, famine, floods or economic growth in China, to fully appreciate and internalize certain phenomena, you need to me immersed in it – see and feel it first-hand. The pace of change is accelerating and it is amazing how this change is impacting business and technology. The internet is almost in every pocket. And the absence of the internet is a roadblock for running a business. It is also the precondition of hyper-scalable business. The dotcom is has been a new normal now for almost two decades. How has this changed things? Some staggering facts:
  • In 1960, the average age of a fortune 500 company was 60 years, by 2020 it will be 12.
  • Since 2000, 52% of the names on the fortune 500 list have disappeared, by 2027 it will be 75%
  • 3 months after Kodak filed for bankruptcy, Instagram and its thirteen employees were bought by Facebook for $1 billion
  • 90% of data has been created in the past 2 years
  • 1,7 megabytes of new information is created, every second, by every human
For a tech company like us, a relevant context is the innovation space in the Silicon Valley. It is central to technology development and what is still hype here in the marketplace, in the Bay Area, it is very much reality.

An opportunity to visit Silicon Valley presented itself and so I hopped on the bandwagon and spent a week in The Valley to make observations, seek inspiration and immerse myself in the wonderland of start-ups, technology, R&D, innovation, entrepreneurship. And venture capitalist (VC) money.

“It’s tough trying to keep your feet on the ground, your head above the clouds, your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel, your finger on the pulse, your eye on the ball and your ear to the ground” - Proverb

FINNISH CUCKOO IN PALO ALTO

The backdrop for this excursion is our local business environment. Finland has been frantically struggling to keep pace in the competitive business environment. Meanwhile, the seemingly suicidal and protectionist labor unions have done their utmost to build barricades and roadblocks to curb growth. The government (in this context the opposition) has been pursuing a visible increase in the nation’s cost competitiveness and launched what we call KiKy (collective cost competitiveness agreement) entailing a daily 6 minute increase in working time with no extra pay. This adds up to 24 hours more work per capita per year. Awesome.

By the way, in English this hack agreement is pronounced Cuckoo. In theory, this productivity placebo might have a microscopic impact on those few who still work alongside conveyor belts. In practice, it is largely patching the Titanic with toothpicks and bubble-gum. Many insightful businesses have realized the irony and have admirably adhered to the CuckooTM agreement by spending the new six minutes on champagne and yoga.

When I told people in Palo Alto about the CuckooTM agreement, they thought I was kidding. So we should expect that the six minutes will make a difference? And that we seriously think we have a cost competitiveness problem? Is it the midnight sun or the long dark winter that triggers these delusions?

Can the buzz that is associated heavily with the start-up scene and hyperscalable businesses somehow be injected into the broader business environment? Could there be other ways to synthesize entrepreneurism? Are there learning points we could translate to our environment?



Mia Aspegren, Momentous Oy managing partner joined the same bandwagon to The Valley. Here you can find some of her thoughts:
Boardman2020.fi: The New Normal – Silicon Valley Experienced
Boardman2020.fi: Mental notes on Innovation from our visit to the Google Campus

OTHER STORIES FROM THE VALLEY:
The Silicon Valley Experience: The Backdrop

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