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Ikhlaq Sidhu
Contact: For interest in new projects and/or affiliated programs, email sidhu@berkeley.edu or is@innovation-engineering.net
Affiliation Non-profit Links: UC Berkeley Sutardja Center, Berkeley IEOR, Applied Innovation, Jacob’s Institute for Design, HBKU
New Ventures Affiliations: Innovation Engineering, Cambia Networks, Venture Dojo, InnoClarity, X-Fund, OnSet Ventures.

Short Bio:
A world-class expert in “real-life” technology innovation and leadership. Invented the technology used in Skype and other internet communications (over 60 patents). Started 4 new companies (3 still active). Academically trained, yet highly applied.  Developed Data-X. Serves on many advisory boards. Created the Entrepreneurship & Technology area at the #1 public university in the world. Currently, Chief Scientist, and Founding Director, Sutarja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, & IEOR Emerging Area Professor.

My Projects:
My projects and programs help people – who want to create new things, grow their businesses, or transform their organizations no matter how complex the situation or technology – by teaching tactics, innovation culture, collecting helpful data, and/or coaching the leadership.

On a day-to-day basis, I work with people at..

  • Innovative Firms: Engineering leaders at Apple, Google, Samsung, Cisco, Applied Materials, Lam Research, Yahoo, Network Appliances, GM, Bosch, Qualcomm, PayPal, Broadcom, VMware, and many other leading firms.
  • New Ventures: Undergraduate, Ph.D. students, and faculty colleagues at UC Berkeley and the global partner institutions of the College of Engineering.
  • Organizations, Universities, and Governments:  Includes Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar, Chile Engineering 2030, Onset Ventures, a leading Silicon Valley investment firm, Hong Kong (HKBU), the Government of New Zealand, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and the Jacobs Institute for Design at UC Berkeley.

About me:

I am an innovator with an industry background and with a perspective of an academic.  I now teach at the University of California, Berkeley and live in Silicon Valley.

I teach, advise and manage people to enable impactful and relevant innovation projects, which today demands a different kind of leadership.

I am an innovator in the narrow sense (e.g. created 60+ patents, technology, and products) and I am an innovator in the broad sense (e.g. launched ventures, raised funds, founded organizations, led businesses, and navigated complex political challenges) within areas of data networking, telecommunications, and more recently in academics.

Most people describe me as technically capable, broad-thinking, and genuine. From me, people learn how to create new things that are technically complex and that will actually have an impact in the real world.

By now, I am probably most known for bringing an industry perspective to academia. I founded the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology in 2005 and launched its many spin-offs programs. With Ken Singer, I co-created the Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship (for students) and the Berkeley Method of Innovation Leadership (for existing companies). Both of these frameworks add concepts of social-psychology, mindset, and journey to the traditional steps of innovation. The spin-offs from my work at Berkeley include the GVL in 2008, the Fung Institute in 2009, the Engineering Leadership Professional Program in 2011, SkyDeck in 2012, the Innovation Collider in 2015, and Data-X in 2016.   See Short Bio and Full CV  here.

Interests:

  • Teaching teams and firms how to adapt, grow, and develop innovation culture, no matter how complex the situation or technical factors.
  • Advising and coaching to leaders to reduce risk in strategic and innovative projects.
  • Data analytics to support strategic projects and direction changes.
  • Policy, process, and structure for innovation in firms and regions.

Perspective:

To grow or run innovative projects, the main challenge is that an an organization must learn to do something that it has never done before.   At a company level, many firms have done it well (eg. IBM, Apple, Netflix, GE) while other firms have not been so successful (e.g. Kodak, Tower Records, Blockbuster, Novell).  And at a project level, many expensive, strategic projects go off track and fail miserably.  In fact, a lot tends to go wrong:

  • People on the team don’t even know what innovation is supposed to feel like or what the steps are.
  • The team can not get the commitment of stakeholders and customers.
  • The culture of the organization offers too much friction, i.e. a culture of “No.” 
  • An innovative team has irritated the rest of the organization so much that the project is already doomed, unless the organizational dynamics are fixed first.
  • The value creation argument is not really there. It is really just a science project.
  • The new project has no strategic alignment. Even if it works, it is actually distractive to the mission of the firm.   And the team does not understand why.
  • The team does not have the necessary technical or business skills.
  • There is no accepted framework or language in the company that allows this program to be framed, measured, or supported. No one can describe the process to others.
  • A leader may be insecure and/or does not create trust in the organization. Or the leadership has simply has not set the tone for the correct culture in the organization.
  • The processes in the organization do not balance “organic growth” with “top-down strategic direction”.
  • Structurally misaligned incentives. Why innovate if it is only a risk, and the behaviors are not measured or rewarded.
  • People can’t work effectively with each other in non-traditional areas. Or possibly, the wrong team is assigned to the project.

Current Programs

Data-X: A Course on Data, Systems and Signals

A technical course that teaches students at UC Berkeley to use foundational mathematical concepts and current computer science tools to create data-related applications and systems for real world problems. (Course Materials)

data-x-model

Engineering Leadership Program

This program is the management track for Silicon Valley.  The program builds upon the core technical skills of managers, engineers, and scientists; and provides breadth, strategy, market focus, operations, and communication skills for engineering leaders to be able to take larger roles within innovative companies.

Berkeley Innovation Index

A data-analytic approach to measuring innovation mindset and innovation culture inside companies.