Francois Hollande is visiting Silicon Valley in February. The main question has been for many days whether he will be accompanied by the first lady (at the time) or an actress. Once he clarified his personal situation, the topic of discussion among the French community switched to the legitimacy of his trip.
We all know that France has shown a very debatable view of innovation. More importantly, a political view of the world, in which you believe a government should be involved in everything and regulate everything, is at the opposite of what’s happening in Silicon Valley. I mean, when you see the government passing a law to force Uber cars to wait for 15 minutes before they can pick up a passenger, to protect the “old taxis”, we’re not talking about innovation anymore, but stagnation, and potentially depression in the long term.
We know that France is run by a very old school elite. And we all know all the issues with an old school socialist model, which just doesn’t work in the global world we live in today. To be very honest, even Hollande himself has realized it, and has made very clear changes in his views that, if executed, could create some positive outcome.
His trip to Silicon Valley is a good thing. Good leaders are the ones who can learn – a lot and fast -, adapt, and execute. If we want a better France, we must welcome him, and educate him on how things are being done here. Not everything done in Silicon Valley is great, but there may be some things that can be adapted to France. And more importantly, we must help him: I was at the White House two weeks ago. They had in the room federal employees and innovators in the job space, and we spent a day talking about how we can help the US government hire. At the end of the day, folks in the room had to commit on executing on something and come back in 90 days and present it to the whole group.
Why couldn’t we do this? Why couldn’t we put some of the folks who live and work in Silicon Valley in a room, with representation from the French government, and agree on a few hacks to bring some good things from Silicon Valley back to France or even just help innovation in France? Very tangible things, easily measurable, demoable, etc… Maybe it has been done before, but I haven’t seen it. I keep hearing people complaining all the time about how things are done in France vs here (funny part is I also hear many Americans envy our health care and education system). It’s true. Some things are broken. Like in any company. And the only way to fix it is to take responsibility and execute.