I’ve been thinking about imagination a lot recently, prompted by my return to the startup world, and reflecting on what I missed most while away. There was a great post by Francisco Dao* in PandoDaily on how essential imagination is to the success of Silicon Valley, and more broadly the tech startup ecosystem.
“I have no doubt that this “culture of possibility,” strangely driven by the illusion of imagination, is the secret sauce that makes Silicon Valley what it is. For those who live outside of Northern California (including myself), I use the term “Silicon Valley” not as a geographical description but in the context of a shared belief system, one that embraces imagination and ignores the probabilities of failure.
Don’t get me wrong – logic has a place, businesses do need to eventually generate cash flow, but nothing would ever get started if we imposed the logic of today on the businesses and product of tomorrow.
It is not surprising to me that young people are drawn to the tech scene, or that most of the most innovative companies are started by young people – we’ve had less time to have so-called “reality” beaten into us. But also because technology is largely a meritocratic market – no one cares how old you are or what you look like if your stuff works. This is becoming even more so as the cost of learning to code decrease to free, outside your time. (If you haven’t seen them yet, check out Udacity, or Coursera). The costs of setting testing an idea, collaborating across geographies, and setting up a company continue to decrease.
The only hurdle that remains is your ability to imagine a different reality, a better way of doing things and the wherewithal to see it through – that’s where delusion is helpful, or a supportive environment of like-minded people who want to help, or at least won’t laugh you out the door when you propose a new way of doing things.
I’m glad to be back in startup land and will attempt to post more regular commentary on my re-integration – this time on the operating side, and in a new geography.
*I will discuss at some later date the fact that his exclusive tech network is called 50kings rather than queens or some non-gendered royalty since the dearth of women in technology hasn’t been discussed to death