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Saneel Radia
Works at VivaKi
Attended Berlin School of Creative Leadership
Lives in brooklyn, ny
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Saneel Radia

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Wrote a post defining brand-led #innovation and outlining the role a #brand can play in broader corporate innovation efforts:. 
 
In this article, a version of which was published on CampaignLive.com, +Finch15's +Saneel Radia takes a  look at the value of the brand and the critical role it plays in corporate #innovation#quirky   #ge  
In this post, a version of which was published on CampaignLive.com, I look at the value of the brand and the critical role it plays in corporate innovation. It's unfortunate when a potentially valuable word reaches “buzzword” status, as is the case with “innovation” (a quick Amazon check shows ...
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I was recently honored to serve as President of the Jury of the LADC #Adwards festival in Riga. I gave a keynote on Innovation vs. Creativity. Here are the slides. It's a thesis on how agencies can take advantage of their unique creative talent to transform themselves into innovation partners.
Advertising agencies are obsessed with innovation. They also have one of the most unique sets of creative talent of any industry. Yet the creative department...
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Thanks for sharing
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A perspective on the often neglected role of a #brand  in the #startup -dominated conversation about Software Eating the World. 
Finch15's Saneel Radia articulates the role a brand can play as "traditional" businesses disrupt typically digital industries.
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I'm obviously biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed working my way through +Ian Fitzpatrick 's reading list.
 
Thank you +Ian Fitzpatrick for your shout out to +Saneel Radia's post, Starting a Career in Innovation. Check out the rest of Ian's best-of reading list!
I read and watch a great deal of content. Likely, you do, as well. I've made, in 2013, significant effort to seek out ideas at the expense of stuff — the detritus that fills our streams with stock figures, acquisition rumor, the latest ways in which someone has tapped the Etsy API, ...
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Wrote a post for junior talent considering #innovation  as a career. I hope it's mildly helpful.
 
Finch15's +Saneel Radia shares his thoughts on what it takes to embark on a career in innovation.

Starting a Career in Innovation

Lately, I've had multiple junior people ask me for advice on how to embark on a career in innovation. I've consistently felt my answer was lacking (and can only imagine they did, too). Then again, I’m inclined to believe that traditional career paths are slowly dying, so I was never really sure it was a subject worth advising on. Just look at how dramatically careers have changed in the last 10 years: People move around more and have more professional "side projects,” all while “intraprenuers” have proven corporate ladders aren’t necessarily linear. 

All this means that young professionals have access to unprecedented possibilities. So it’s understandable that they’re looking for guidance, especially in something as uncertain as innovation. Yet, as they enter the workforce, their questions are rarely about “which path” to take; rather, most of these new entrants are trying to identify what paths even exist before them. 

(Over)Simplifying the Innovation Landscape

So, I’d like to first define innovation. My sense is that most of the people I'm speaking to aren't even sure what "innovation" actually means. The definition I like to use is "the introduction of the relevant new." New being what makes it innovative, and relevant being what makes it stick, but also difficult to achieve. 

That still leaves room for a very broad list of innovations. It’s no wonder companies find it challenging to decide where to invest their innovation resources. What qualifies is something multiple stakeholders will have an opinion on, and every organization approaches differently as a result. In general, there are two types of innovation: lateral and vertical. Lateral innovation focuses on introducing radically new offerings to an industry, whereas vertical innovation focuses on improving upon the previous version. 

The vast majority of innovation dollars actually goes into vertical innovation. Companies are quicker to justify investments in incremental improvements because they’re safer than betting on the unknown. For instance, reaching 50 MPG is a reasonable vertical innovation goal for the automotive industry. The challenge for employees is that vertical innovation benefits greatly from direct experience, which means a career in it is typically limited to a single vertical. After all, it would be difficult to parlay that deep automotive technical skill into helping financial services companies innovate new offerings. Thus from a talent standpoint, expertise in vertical innovation doesn’t scale across industries very well¹.

On the other hand, lateral innovation depends less on having specialized industry knowledge, and in fact, benefits from a fresh perspective. For this reason, it can be more appealing to new professionals seeking a career in the “industry” of innovation because it can offer the reinvention of many different companies or industries. Nike, for instance, entered the consumer electronics space with the launch of its Nike+ FuelBand and its success has since established the company as a leader in wearable technology. 

Lateral innovation requires venturing into new territories with limited visibility into the returns (i.e., what makes it “relevant,” not just “new). As such, companies pursuing lateral innovation actively seek outside help. For employees, this is the professional conundrum: is it worth pursuing a career in a field that demands a small percentage of innovation dollars, but opens up many more possible employers and clients? I’m of the mindset that for junior talent, it’s definitely worth it. Not only will opportunities for lateral innovation continue to grow as industries blur, but the mindset of anyone looking for a career in innovation is likely one where having knowledge and experience across a breadth of subject matters is highly appealing. 

Developing a Diverse Professional Experience

So what type of early work experience is most relevant for a career in lateral innovation? Bluntly, I think the answer is diversity. When companies are looking for help inventing--or reinventing--their future, they’re likely seeking people with different perspectives. Accumulating those perspectives requires having a career that spans industries and/or roles. That means spending these early career years--gulp--jumping around. The longer you wait, the harder such jumping will become, so why not use these years to learn as many different things as possible? 

Of course, this is only possible for those with a skill companies find valuable. Every step of your professional journey should enhance that particular skill.  Many of the people seeking my advice drastically underestimate their need to hone a core expertise. Having many different jobs without developing a specific skill will actually make you less employable later. It’s the difference between hopping from stone to stone to cross a river, and going in circles on a merry-go-round. Designer? Researcher? Writer? All companies can benefit from these types of assets. Identify your core expertise, use it to deliver value to any company, and in exchange, gain varied industry experience. The more industries you work in, the more qualified you'll be to help invent the radically new-- to help companies laterally innovate.

Learn everything you can about an industry as you work in it. Use the exploratory part of your career to get better at your particular craft while adding as many light skills as possible. There's no better way to make the leap into innovation than being T-shaped². The core of your expertise will be the lens through which you'll concept and design innovation opportunities. 

I guess this was a long way of saying that there's no clear path into (and through) a career in innovation. But that’s just part of the fun. If that makes you uncomfortable, you probably wouldn't like the job much anyway. Of course, if you're taking advice from me, you may be doomed already. 

So maybe just read our industry's sacred text³ and drop me a line if I can work for you down the road.

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¹Some of the best innovators have been able to do this under the guise of "design" but I'm both unqualified and too intimidated to guide someone down that particular path.

²http://bbh-labs.com/?s=t-shaped

³http://www.amazon.com/The-Innovators-Dilemma-Technologies-ebook/dp/B004OC07GM 

Image Source: The Daily Muse via Daniel McDermott
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+Berlin School thanks! yes, happy to repurpose. just let me know what's needed from me. 
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I was a guest on +The BeanCast this (controversial) week in marketing. I was joined by the insightful +Peter Shankman, +Augie Ray and Mark Wnek. 
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Saneel Radia

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Listening to many big company Chief Innovation Officers present last week while the internet argued of the merits of "disruptive innovation" led me to an epiphany. Perhaps innovation is in the eye of the beholder. Here's what I heard from CIOs, as well as what it led me to think about this slippery term of ours: 
Finch15 recently attended the Chief Innovation Officer Summit in San Francisco. Saneel Radia reflects on the juxtaposition of innovation at the event and the heated debates happening online over this complex concept.
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Here's a new platform we're launching. It lets people donate their time to causes they care about. Any and all help (sharing, backing, following, etc) would be greatly appreciated. 
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I think this is an extraordinary idea!
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My 2013 #innovation  reading list (with key take-aways). Yeah, fine I cheated. At least now I'll have a New Year's resolutions. 
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If you haven't been paying attention, there's a full blown revolution in the works around web comments. It's a pretty interesting testing ground for product innovation in any industry.
 
Check out +Saneel Radia's response to the recent flurry of announcements around user commenting, particularly in the world of journalism. The debate continues as publications figure out what works best for their product. One thing's for sure, we're watching it closely.
Online user comments have gained a lot of attention recently. And although it may seem like simple publisher experimentation across the web, it hints at a larger trend toward redefining consumers’ ...
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If you missed it, I was on this week's Beancast, covering the latest marketing news, including Chromecast. 
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Marketers wish they could play a bigger role in product development and innovation yet they fail to utilize the asset that gives them their best opportunity to actually do so. My thoughts below. 
 
+Finch15's +Saneel Radia wrote a piece for Napkin Labs about a marketer's most valuable--and yet, highly underutilized--asset: its customers.

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Your Most Valuable Asset May Be Lying Dormant

A few years ago, I heard marketers start using the word “assets” to describe some of the things they created. My initial reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Why shouldn’t it have been? Previously, every output from marketing spend was formalized as an expense. The idea of jumping over to the other side of the balance sheet– of moving from “the cost of doing business” to “something with future value”– was appealing.

Then reality set in. Most things marketers and their agencies create are indeed expenses– a point painfully reinforced by client procurement teams. It was a hard pill to swallow at first. We were putting our blood, sweat and tears into these experiences. Yet it was tough to deny that they had little future value. In fact, we found ourselves so ready to move on to the next thing, that we wouldn’t have been willing to put in the time to extract value from previous creations anyway. And why would we? We’d been there. We’d done that. We were creative. We were innovative. We needed something new.

The irony of the matter is that companies have a particular, highly valuable asset lying dormant. It isn’t hidden away in an attic either. It’s their customer base. The vast majority of companies view customers solely as revenue. Yet that myopic view underutilizes this audience. Take the “funnel” mentality of most organizations for example. Dated for a number of reasons, funnels are most frustrating as a metaphor to those of us who work in innovation because customers fall out of the bottom.

Why? If someone is willing to like, follow, pin, register or email with a brand, why do so many marketers fail to see them as an asset? This is an audience with incredible innovation potential. The issue is most companies aren’t built to engage this audience. They’re simply built to extract from it. As brands start to confuse metrics for objectives, they focus on tricks and tools to increase engagement. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it all feels like signage on a road to a familiar destination: a sale.

What if companies ask this group for more than a sale? Companies like Nike, Starbucks, Tesla, American Express and LEGO should be an inspiration for any brand with even a single customer willing to give them more than their money. These companies have all launched products or services in varying levels of collaboration with customers, and many have ongoing platforms through which customers know they can contribute things beyond their cash. We live in an amazing age where the tools to accomplish this are everywhere. Every brand has a media channel of some kind and is in an ongoing dialogue with their customers whether they like it or not. Tools that allow companies to actually benefit from this asset are not only available, but can readily plug into existing owned media channels.

I believe in this potential of customers to do more than just buy stuff. Groups of connected, passionate people who know a lot about a product can be useful in crafting new experiences, driving lateral innovation, or even as a real-time research lab. Marketers that don’t see customers as an asset are ignoring a very valuable resource.

Ultimately missing this asset could be a very large expense.
Napkin Labs empowers brands to uncover the passion and creativity of their fans with our suite of apps for Facebook.
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Innovation
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  • VivaKi
    EVP, Product Innovation, 1 - present
  • BBH Labs
    Head of Innovation, 5 - 1
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brooklyn, ny
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chicago, il - los angeles, ca
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Loyal to Optimus
Introduction
Marketing misfit. Nerd. Self proclaimed mayor of the interwebs. EVP, Product Innovation @VivaKi. Previously running @bbhlabs in NYC & Head of Innovation @BBHnewyork. Tweets as @saneel.
Education
  • Berlin School of Creative Leadership
    Creativity Management, 2007 - 2009
  • University of Texas at Austin
    Advertising, 1996 - 2000
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Male