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Wharton Executive Education Launches New Innovation Program in San Francisco


SAN FRANCISCO, CA: In business, the conventional wisdom is that innovation requires a spark of genius or magical alchemy. The truth is that disruptive innovations in business are not random acts of nature — there is a pattern to the phenomena. Mastering Innovation: From Idea to Value Creation is a new Wharton Executive Education program that offers an unconventional approach to exploring innovation. The program, which will be held for the first time June 11–15, 2017 on the Wharton School’s San Francisco campus, is designed for executives who are leading innovation initiatives within their companies and want to become a catalyst for organization-wide change.

Wharton Professors Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich lead the program, providing the tools and frameworks needed for managing innovation across an organization. They explore internal and external innovation, concrete methods for managing the risk inherent in any new endeavor, and creative problem-solving skill development to enable individuals at every level in the organization to become more innovative.

A highlight of Mastering Innovation is a structured approach for creating and selecting exceptional opportunities that was developed by Terwiesch and Ulrich. “We developed a process that you can start using immediately, and teach to others in your organization," says Terwiesch, co-director of Wharton’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management. "Once you have a process in place, everyone who has a great idea can move it forward. In turn, that process will lead to you developing a more innovative culture.”

That process, an Innovation Tournament, isn’t relegated to a lecture or case study. Launched online before the in-person portion of the class begins in San Francisco, participants pitch and crowd source ideas with one another in an Innovation Tournament. “When we meet in San Francisco, we are ready to roll," says Terwiesch. "Participants have already met (online) and begun working together. We narrow down their ideas and build teams around them. Then we work on commercializing those ideas as far as possible in five days.”

The tournament is just one of many opportunities participants will have to put new knowledge to the test. More workshop than classroom-based experience, the program blurs the distinction between theory and practice, addressing participants’ real-world challenges. It also capitalizes on its location in San Francisco, CA and its proximity to Silicon Valley, known as the birthplace of some of the most innovative companies in the world. Some of the most successful innovators operating in business today will interact with participants outside of class, sharing why their strategies succeeded when others did not.

Ultimately, the success of the program lies in how well participants are able to change the way their organizations innovate. “You don’t need to be the next Elon Musk. Most organizations need to focus on and get the most out of their current business, their current customers, and their immediately adjacent business opportunities,” says Terwiesch.

For more information on Mastering Innovation: From Idea to Value Creation please visit WhartonForInnovation.com or contact Wharton Executive Education at +1.215.898.1776 or execed@wharton.upenn.edu.


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  • Eleena de Lisser
    Director of Marketing Communications
    Aresty Institute of Executive Education
    The Wharton School
    University of Pennsylvania
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