Orignally shared in the Rainforest Alberta Pulse in April 2018, the following post discusses the value of Diversity to cultivating and supporting Innovators.
How does a culture of TRUST benefit the Alberta Innovation?
Trust is probably the most important value in the Rainforest. Not only is this value key to driving the internal success of a company, but trust is the social lubricant that allows positive-sum deals to be made, allows diverse collaborations to begin, and the freedom to share ideas and openly discuss customer-centric problems.
Trust is also central to enabling potential customers to adopt a new or unknown technology or product from a company that may not have existed in the near past.
Trust, having obvious advantages, remains elusive. As advances in communications and travel have decreased the apparent size of the world, making enormous geographical distances easy to traverse, the inhibitors to innovation, collaboration, and trust quickly have shifted to social barriers. It is easier now, much more than ever, to connect with individuals or groups anywhere in the world, at almost no cost. These advances have amplified the connections within similar social circles. For example, academics in a given field can collaborate more easily than ever before, working side by side on a research project while being thousands of kilometres apart. Despite these advances, disparate social circles trust each other less than ever before. Academics, for example, have similar values, beliefs, and speak a common language among themselves, as do other groups such as business people, artists, etc. Technology has made it easier to share information within these groups, reinforcing the common beliefs and amplifying the existing messages. What is needed in this evolving world is more trust between social groups. Business people, working with artists, working with academia, and others, to achieve results of common interest, bringing new innovations to market and generating real economic value. Trust is the lubricant that makes these diverse collaborations possible, and this is why trust is a key value of the Rainforest.
Breaking outside your circle of trust requires embracing discomfort, which is not easy for most people. In the book "The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley", authors Hwang and Horowitt discuss an unusual individual that they call a Keystone. Keystones are described as individuals practicing a certain manner of human interaction that is critical to the growth of entrepreneurial innovation. They "have the effect of lowering the cost of doing business in the Rainforest, speeding up the process of interactions in the entire system, and making it easier for people with ideas, talent, or captial to connect and collaborate with each other." Hwang and Horowitt describe the key attributes of Keystones, which are essential to the success of an innovation ecosystem: