Program Experience

Highlights and Key Outcomes

Mastering Innovation: Strategy, Process, and Tools enables you to achieve success by showing you how to:

  • Deploy the technology, tools, and principles to effectively recognize, evaluate and validate new opportunities
  • Create a corporate culture that fosters ongoing, company-wide creativity
  • Build an architecture that allows innovation to thrive throughout your company
  • Successfully invest for future growth while managing the risks of disruption
  • Perfect your own creative problem-solving skills while developing these skills across your organization
  • Determine when to enact radical innovation from within, and when to seek it externally
  • Utilize design thinking and lean validation methods to hasten your response to opportunities

Experience & Impact

Academic Directors Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich on managing the process of innovation

How much does innovation cost? Well, how much is it worth? Mastering Innovation imparts immediately applicable methods that help you fully understand a need, create a solution to meet that need, and develop a sustainable business model in which your solution is worth more than the cost of delivering it.

There is another thing successful companies do well, and that is experience failure. Indeed, failure is a huge part of innovation. It means you have ventured into the unknown, explored unpredictable outcomes, and taken risks to push boundaries, test theories and identify what it takes to win.

Through this program, you will perfect your innovation skills and learn how to:

  • Identify successful opportunities triggered by changes in technology, regulation and shifting or new customer preferences
  • Actively manage real-world solutions in a hands-on Innovation Tournament
  • Execute targeted strategies that turn unmet customer needs into actionable innovative solutions

You will generate and valuate ideas on an individual level, while also addressing systematic approaches for creating processes to produce multiple ideas that can be identified, developed and commercialized.

Program Format

Mastering Innovation includes two online sessions prior to your arrival on campus. These sessions will include an introduction to an innovation tournament, a hallmark of this program. This advanced preparation will build your innovative mindset and peer-to-peer learning community before the program begins.

Wharton LIVE Programming

Real-time, synchronous peer learning

The live, virtual version of Mastering Innovation will be delivered online and taught by the same Wharton faculty who teach in the on-campus program. The virtual sessions are structured to allow for extensive Q&A so that participants can discuss their respective business challenges.

Participants will have direct access to Wharton faculty throughout the program and engage in dynamic group exercises that help reinforce the learning and enable networking among the peer community.

This virtual program is a fully immersive and structured learning experience that culminates with a new set of knowledge and tools that can be put to immediate use.

Program Duration:

  • Jan. 11 – 15, 2021

Building Your Network

Mastering Innovation will also include multiple opportunities for you to get to know the other participants and build your professional network. These sessions include:

  • Q&A Networking Forum
    During these sessions, faculty will examine and discuss the most promising opportunities and most significant challenges participants' organizations are facing. Participants act as a sounding board while simultaneously identifying the commonalities that connect the issues across organizations.

In-class session topics include:

  • Technological Disruption and Transformation
  • Open Innovation: Engaging the External Innovation Ecosystem
  • Organizing for Innovation, and the Effective Use of Individuals and Groups
  • Ideation: Generating Ideas and Divergent Thinking
  • Design Thinking and Its Application in Organizations
  • Rapid Validation of Ideas and Lean Innovation

Convince Your Supervisor

Here’s a justification letter you can edit and send to your supervisor to help you make the case for attending this Wharton program.

Innovation Tournament

Professors Christian Terwiesch and Karl Ulrich explain how an innovation tournament works.

Mastering Innovation puts a unique spin on the Innovation Tournament. A few weeks prior to the program, you will participate in a “virtual session” that allows you to explore situations that mimic your workplace challenges, and submit ideas for innovative solutions. In a “Survival of the Fittest” competition, your peers will vote on the winning solutions. And you will quickly realize that innovation is not about lectures and case studies.

This powerful experience allows you to bring your challenges to the program, roll up your sleeves, and work alongside some of the world’s top business minds to find actionable, strategic solutions that can have a measurable impact on your organization. By the end of the program, you will also have knowledge and tools to design and implement a tournament for your own 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, COO, CTO and CIO 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/health systems
  • Manufacturing and consumer products
  • Entertainment, tech and media

Fluency in English, written and spoken, is required for participation in Wharton Executive Education programs unless otherwise indicated.

Participant Profile

Participants by Industry

Mastering Innovation participants by Industry

Participants by Job Function

Mastering Innovation participants by job function

Participants by Region

Mastering Innovation participants by Region

Plan your stay at Wharton

Plan Your Stay

This program is held in Philadelphia and in San Francisco. Learn more about planning your stay at Wharton’s Philadelphia campus. Learn more about planning your stay at Wharton | San Francisco.

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.


Christian Terwiesch

Christian Terwiesch, PhDSee Faculty Bio

Academic Director

Andrew M. Heller Professor; Department Chairperson and Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions; Co-Director, Mack Institute of Innovation Management, The Wharton School; Professor of Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

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

Karl Ulrich

Karl Ulrich, ScDSee 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


Even though my company competes in a sector that behaves more traditionally, this does not prevent us from innovating in how we manage our people, operate, and go to market. Innovation isn’t a niche topic for a few industries only. My company is a 40-year-old global manufacturer of insulation products and solutions. We are moving away from commodity thinking to down-channel selling — we want to use the digital challenge to our favor, and become as customer-centric as possible in our industry.

My functional area of responsibility is broad, which gives me the opportunity to influence many areas. However, if you don’t have a fundamental understanding of how innovation works and how to get others to think towards a goal or even to accelerate the process of thinking towards a goal, then you don’t get as much done. In a role like mine, I need everyone else to generate the great ideas. That is why I think a lot about how I can help set the framework to produce innovative ideas from the bottom up in the organization. I wanted to learn how to anticipate market needs and grow my organization's capacity to innovate, so we can improve top-line and bottom-line performance while building sustainable advantage.

Agile organizations, design thinking, innovation culture — concepts Wharton addressed around those topics made the biggest impression on me. I am pretty process-driven myself, so I could connect easily to the idea of seeing innovation as a process to be managed in the style of a tournament. But this will bring you only half way. Without an organization that is open to ideas, trying non-perfect solutions and accepting failure as part of the journey to success, we won’t arrive at our intended destination. Moving forward, I plan to incorporate the design thinking, innovation governance models and piloting of minimum viable products into the governance of our activities. One of the biggest learnings I had in class was that it is necessary to move away from perfection. Ideas can really change their shape pretty significantly over time for them to be successful.

I am planning to share my Wharton experience with our senior team as my company expands its executive education programming next year. I also hope to return to Wharton for future programs. The quality of Wharton’s teaching and the participant discussions were compelling.”

Barbara-Maria LothChief Operating Officer, Knauf Insulation, Inc.

This is my second time attending a Wharton program on the West Coast, and I found it very valuable. The faculty has done extensive research on innovation and has worked as consultants with many companies. They shared new and better ways of doing innovation and showed how innovation strategy is very different when introducing new products versus introducing services. The instructors really involved the participants in the class — people working in pharma, services, investment and the financial sector — helping us determine how to implement different methodologies into our companies. They told us that we need to look for innovation from our own employees.

Since returning from Wharton, I have a much more complete way of thinking about innovation, particularly about disruption — how to take that quantum leap to differentiate yourself in the market. I now have the tools to evaluate the competition and disrupt the market so our airline partners can grow the number of frequent flyer members.”

Fernando Gabriel Jiménez VelázquezAir Rewards Manager, Club Premier/Aeromexico

Oftentimes people toss up the concept of innovation with no real understanding of what it truly is, how it’s done, or how to define success that comes out of innovation, so the scope of this class was very timely. Working in the biopharmaceutical industry, we are highly regulated. Everyone is looking to uncover innovation but we obviously face a lot of limitations on how we innovate. However, the flip side is that it’s very much possible with the right rigor and the skill sets I learned at Wharton. For me, the most valuable part of this class was the concept of the innovation tournament and developing a consistent approach for fostering innovation that allows for the best idea creation to take the lead and to get the right energy and resources behind it.

Wharton’s class discouraged brainstorming in favor of letting people individually collect new ideas, and putting those ideas through a filter to ensure that they address an actual need. I applied this innovation model to business reviews with my team as we were looking at ways we could be impactful to our business — in fact, we are implementing a regional innovation tournament to look at our 2018 business. As the overall health care landscape changes and our customers take on various amounts of risk, the innovation tournament will allow my team to think about [questions like], ‘How do we partner with different entities that will allow us to provide a better partnership?’ We want to bring value beyond just dollars and this is where innovation comes in.

I have recommended this program to colleagues. I’ve worn several different hats in the company, from sales and marketing leadership to the managed care leadership side, and I believe the concept of innovation applies across all areas of the business. My plan is to return to Wharton in 2018 for another professional development class — eventually my goal is to complete Wharton’s Certificate of Professional Development.”

Bill NicholsHead of US HCV Marketing and Sales, Bristol-Myers Squibb

As an entrepreneur involved with several companies, I have incorporated multiple learnings from Wharton’s Mastering Innovation class in my companies. As CFO for Code Green, a leading sustainability consulting company, I have implemented an annual innovation tournament in our 2018 Corporate Plan that will enable all 35 of our employees, from our most junior staff to senior leaders, to further expand their contributions. That’s powerful! We have some tremendous engineers and sustainability experts and are excited to see what kind of breakthroughs they come up with.

Wharton’s Mastering Innovation teachings are also relevant to a portfolio company, that I co-founded named Better Spaces. Better Spaces works with commercial real estate owners and operators to create scale and community, while reducing carbon footprint and bringing new amenities and programming to create a healthy, inspired, sustainable workplace.

Having access to faculty such as Karl Ulrich and Christian Terwiesch has been phenomenal. I equate it to having a one-week boot camp with the top finance and innovation minds in the world. The depth of knowledge in Wharton’s faculty is both humbling and inspiring.

This class and the Wharton program are ideal for leaders looking to enhance their innovation skills and implement impactful frameworks in their home organizations. The processes and platforms Wharton teaches can be leveraged across multiple industries and are highly relevant to the sustainability work I do.

This was my first course at Wharton and it was exceptional. I was recently accepted into Wharton’s General Management Program and am excited to be taking five additional courses over the next two years to complete the program.”

Keith AngellFounder, Engin Capital; CFO, Code Green Solutions; Co-Founder, Better Spaces

I run a wealth management practice at Morgan Stanley and many of our clients are officers, directors and 10% shareholders — significant high net-worth individuals who are very good at what they do, but they simply may not have the time or inclination to manage their overall financial affairs. I am in the epicenter of innovation and to learn some of the skill sets that Wharton provided through this session sounded very intriguing. My biggest challenge is making sure that we are constantly innovating within the firm to stay ahead of the technology curve and to the opportunities that present themselves.

This program helped me address how to better innovate within my team dynamic so that we can be more productive. As an example, when you have a problem, you get people in a room to throw out ideas on how to solve the problem. The professor shared how that wasn’t necessarily the best path to get the result you’re looking for. The strategy that he found to be more appropriate would be to get everyone together and tell them what the problem is, and then everyone disperses and works on their own or in a small group, where they can vet out their ideas and then everyone gets back together, and talks collectively about those detailed, finely tuned ideas.

The professor illustrated the point, saying if you were trying to find a needle in a huge grass field, you could either be a rugby scrum and work collectively looking at one blade of grass at a time, or you could spread everybody out one foot away from each other and walk collectively over the entire field. That resonated with me. Now when we do our investment subcommittee meetings, instead of talking out loud in a group forum, we speak of the issue and then we break up into smaller groups and go over our findings and that’s been a huge win for the business compared to what we did before. It’s already resulted in a higher level of efficiency and proficiency. We’ve had the ability to tackle larger issues in a timelier manner just by implementing some of these tools.

As part of Wharton’s General Management Program, I found this class ideal for someone in management who needs to delegate, and who is trying to be as efficient with their time as possible.”

Jesse BrombergManaging Director, The Bromberg Group at Morgan Stanley

Date, Location, & Fees

January 11 – 15, 2021LIVE Virtual$5,500

June 6 – 10, 2021San Francisco, CA$11,280

Download the program schedule, including session details.

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Hotel Information

Fees for Philadelphia programs include accommodations and meals.

Fees for San Francisco programs include meals but does not include accommodations.

Prices are subject to change.

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Medical BreakthroughA Medical Entrepreneur Breaks New GroundRead the article from Wharton@Work

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