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Mastering Innovation: From Idea to Value Creation

Program Overview

Amazon, Buzzfeed, Netflix, and Uber are a small sampling of companies that have completely reshaped the landscape of their respective industries within a short period of time. They entered markets with new technologies or radically different approaches to doing business leading to the demise or decline of industry incumbents.

The good news is that such disruptive innovations are not random acts of nature — there is a pattern to the phenomena. From the radical innovations that shake up entire industries to the many small innovations that perfect the execution of already successful organizations, innovation can be treated as a process, one that can be managed and turned into a driver of profits and growth.

Read more about the Experience & Impact »

Mastering Innovation Program Highlights and Benefits

  • Become the catalyst for organization-wide change
  • Uncover the patterns that comprise disruptive innovation
  • Understand the competitive dynamics of technology
  • Identify future threats to ongoing growth
  • Create strategic opportunities that outpace competition
  • Construct an architecture that drives innovation across business cycles
  • Inspire a culture of innovation throughout your organization

Contact Us

Schedule a personalized consultation to discuss your professional goals:


January 7 - 11, 2018$9,500

San Francisco, CA

June 10 - 14, 2018$9,500

San Francisco, CA

Download the program schedule, including session details.

Tuition does not include accommodations.

Prices are subject to change.

Featured Video

“Ideas are where innovation starts, but ideas have no value without execution. This program will show participants a process that can create a real opportunity to transform their organizational culture.”

Professor Christian Terwiesch on Mastering Innovation: From Idea to Value Creation

Still considering your options? View programs within Strategy & Innovation or use our Program Finder.

Experience & Impact

Mastering Innovation will demonstrate that innovation is a process that can be managed and perfected.

When it comes to mastering innovation, executives must:

  • Understand the competitive dynamics of technology, enabling them to identify future competitive threats and internal opportunities for growth.
  • Learn the tools and principles to actively manage the process of creating and selecting exceptional opportunities, and discover how to direct those opportunities to meet the strategic needs of the business.
  • Improve their own creative problem-solving skills and develop these skills in and throughout the organization.

First, executives have to understand how changes in technology, regulations, and consumer preferences will lead to new opportunities for incumbents and entrants alike. In Mastering Innovation, participants will learn to understand the competitive dynamics of technologies, enabling them to identify future competitive threats as well as to generate internal opportunities for growth.

Second, executives need to actively manage the process of innovation. Exceptional opportunities do not just happen, they are made. They can be created and selected through innovation tournaments, an organizational process in which many raw opportunities are considered at the outset and only the best survive selection. While most organizations use some kind of tournament logic to identify opportunities, in Mastering Innovation, participants will learn tools and principles to actively manage this process of creating and selecting exceptional opportunities and learn how to direct it to meet the strategic needs of the business.

Third, executives need to develop creative problem-solving skills. Such skills include the ability to walk in the shoes of the customers, to turn unmet customer needs into problem statements for development teams, to create and evaluate a broad set of alternative solution concepts, and to quickly validate new concepts in the market.

In Mastering Innovation, participants will not only improve their own creative problem-solving skills, but they will also learn how to develop these skills in a large organization. By developing these skills throughout the organization, more and more employees can be engaged in the process, leading to more effective innovation tournaments and building a culture of innovation.

Mastering Innovation will build strategic leadership competencies, at both the C-suite/senior executive level as well as at the team leader level, to foster a culture of innovation and spur strategic growth.

Program Format

Mastering Innovation is held in San Francisco — the heart of U.S. innovation. In addition to the in-person classroom sessions, you will get to interact outside of class with some of the most successful innovators operating in business today, and learn why their strategies succeeded when others did not.

Mastering Innovation includes two online sessions prior to your arrival at Wharton | San Francisco to provide you with the opportunity to prepare before coming to campus. This additional preparation allows you to familiarize yourself with the frameworks and tools that will be used to maximize your learning experience while in the program.

Two virtual sessions will be conducted prior to the start of the program to give you insight and guidance on where to find good ideas and how best to communicate those ideas to others. These sessions are:

  • Sourcing Opportunities for Innovation
  • Visual Expression (Whiteboard 101)

In-class session topics include:

  • Technological disruption
  • Innovative business models
  • Innovation Tournaments: Creating and selecting exceptional opportunities
  • Innovation Portfolios: Linking innovation efforts to organizational strategy
  • Establishing an “Innovation Frontier”
  • Open Innovation: Engaging the external innovation ecosystem
  • Organizing for innovation, and the effective use of individuals and groups
  • Need-finding and problem definition
  • Ideation: Generating ideas and divergent thinking
  • Design thinking and its application in organizations
  • Developing a culture of innovation
  • Rapid validation of ideas and lean innovation

Innovation Tournament

An Innovation Tournament is a competition where new ideas compete with one another in numerous rounds of vetting, and only the strongest and most promising ideas make it to the final round. Like its counterpart in sports, this is a structured, multi-round competition. Based on the Darwinian principle of “Survival of the Fittest,” it systematically elicits a large number of innovation opportunities (the contestants) and selects a handful of exceptional ones (the winners). An Innovation Tournament can generate some remarkable innovation opportunities.

Participants in Mastering Innovation will participate in an Innovation Tournament as part of the program. A few weeks before the program starts the learning begins with virtual sessions which prepare you for this exercise. Participants will then submit their three innovative business ideas. These ideas will be reviewed and voted on by fellow participants. When you arrive in San Francisco, you will find out which one of your ideas received the most interest from your fellow participants, and this will be the idea that you work on during the week-long program. By the end of the program, participants will have received constructive feedback to refine their ideas, which will be ready for implementation upon return to their organization.

Who Should Attend

The ideal participant is an executive who is responsible for leading innovation, regardless of these efforts being internal (improving business processes) or external (developing new products, services, and lines of business). Beyond those who have innovation in their job title, executives who are responsible for driving top-line growth, managing portfolios, or tasked with creating new business models will also benefit.

Potential job titles and roles include:

  • Director, senior director, vice president in large corporations
  • CEO, president, senior vice president, general manager in mid-size enterprises
  • Founders or CEOs of rapidly growing, successful entrepreneurial ventures

The program’s content is relevant across industries. Executives in the following industries will find the program’s content particularly valuable:

  • Financial services
  • Pharmaceuticals and health care
  • Manufacturing and consumer products

Group Enrollment

To further leverage the value and impact of this program, we encourage companies to send cross-functional teams of executives to Wharton. We offer group enrollment benefits to companies sending four or more participants.

Plan Your Stay


Christian Terwiesch, PhD   See Faculty Bio

Academic Director

Andrew M. Heller Professor; Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute for Health Economics; Co-Director, William and Phyllis Mack Institute for Innovation Management; Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Analyzing operational performance, innovation management, R&D management

Karl Ulrich, ScD   See Faculty Bio

Academic Director

CIBC Endowed Professor; Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions; Professor of Management; Vice Dean of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Environmental issues, product design and development, innovation

Laura Huang, PhD   See Faculty Bio

Assistant Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship, The Wharton School

Research Interests: Entrepreneurship, innovation, investor decision making, micro-level foundations of entrepreneurship, perceptions and cues in funding decisions

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