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.

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.

Due to our application review period, applications submitted after 12:00 p.m. ET on Friday for programs beginning the following Monday may not be processed in time to grant admission. Applicants will be contacted by a member of our Client Relations Team to discuss options for future programs and dates.

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; Dean’s Office Advisor on Asia Strategy, The Wharton School

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


I signed up for Mastering Innovation because innovation is one of the most important success factors in my industry and I wanted to learn more about effective tools and approaches to create an innovative organization. The course content was extremely rich and much more than expected. I learned not only comprehensive approaches but also gained cutting-edge tools to constantly generate innovation in the rapidly changing current environment. The course content included an innovation tournament, design thinking, customer journey, connected strategy, and innovative culture, all of which are very useful. The course is the best mix of theory and practice. All the cases discussed during the program are very new so that the learning can be immediately converted to a real-world strategy. The course also provided me with a great opportunity for networking with the amazing talented people from around the world. The classroom lectures and discussions were led by superior Wharton professors who created a warm and collaborative classroom environment. I highly recommend this course to any business leaders who are looking to drive enterprise growth in today’s rapidly changing digital environment.”

Kengo Takishima CEO and President, Baylor Genetics

One would think that you could sit back and just listen the entire week to the instructors. But I learned very quickly that that was not the case. From the very beginning, you're immersed in these exercises that force you to learn, to absorb and then to do. And that really helped solidify the learnings that we had throughout the week.”

Patrick Harris Senior Director, Illumina

Wharton’s Mastering Innovation program was an opportunity to learn through experience as we took part in an innovation tournament throughout the week. Although I was originally skeptical of taking a live online class on Zoom, I was surprised by how easy it was to connect with fellow classmates and engage in meaningful conversations. Professors Karl Ulrich and Christian Terwiesch married academic research with real-world experiences of fostering innovation. I’ve been able to immediately put to work key concepts, including divergent-convergent processes for brainstorming and the 'Five Whys' technique for uncovering the problem we are really trying to solve. I would recommend the course for anyone interested in moving their organization along the innovation spectrum."

Deborah Lo Cascio Managing Director, Bessemer Trust

I signed up for Mastering Innovation: Strategy, Process and Tools in order to develop tools related to innovation. Additionally, I wanted to learn from industries other than health care. I was most impressed with the mixing of lectures, breakout-room discussions, and guest speakers. I appreciated being able to apply what we were learning to the pitches that we started on the first day and to see it progress. I also really enjoyed Rob Coneybeer, a speaker in the program, and I enjoyed networking with other participants, as this was a big reason for my signing up for the course. I was able to learn from others relative to their industry.

There were many value-added takeaways that I have put together to share with my senior leadership team. I work within the operations areas of Conexus. I am going to use some of the innovation strategy and tournament ideas when working through opportunities within the teams and areas we are impacting. Additionally, we are in the midst of some key initiatives that I hope to apply these tools to.

I selected Wharton Executive Education due to their curriculum, the customer service provided surrounding the course, the attendees that I was wanting to network with, and the instructors. I was very impressed with Professor Christian Terwiesch, the program’s academic director. He was able to make the subject information and details relevant to all industries. I would highly recommend this course or other Wharton Executive Education courses to other people.”

Cathy Vollmer, RN, BSN, CSP Vice President Operations, Conexus MedStaff LLC

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 Loth Chief Operating Officer, Knauf Insulation, Inc.

Innovation as a process is understood but how to democratize the process was very interesting. Almost every example that was presented was from real-life, so it did not have a hypothetical or academic stigma to it. The concept of the innovation tournaments and how to utilize the technique for empowering innovation to let the process lead to the best idea was amazing. I am believer in this process and look forward to implementing it in my company.

Also, it was intriguing to me that in the class the instructors were in favor of letting everyone individually collect new ideas as pre-work rather than brainstorming in the class because the ideas takes time to form and mature. Hindsight is always interesting and it was great to go through the process and in the end it makes perfect sense looking at the multiplier effect compared to a collective brainstorm. As we went through the week, it was great to see how the teams started to embrace the concept with a common purpose towards the final pitch.

I will absolutely recommend this program because everyone is creative in their own ways regardless of their area of work and can benefit from this class. Plus, the experiences shared by Professor Karl Ulrich and Christian Terwiesch were an absolute differentiator for me.”

Ramesh Keshavaraj Global VP of Research, Development and Technology, Milliken & Company

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 Velázquez Air 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 Nichols Head 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 Angell Founder, 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 Bromberg Managing Director, The Bromberg Group at Morgan Stanley

Date, Location, & Fees

If you are unable to access the application form, please email Client Relations at

April 28 – May 2, 2025Philadelphia, PA$12,500

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