Wharton – Strategy & Innovation – Mastering Innovation: From Idea to Value Creation – TimesTSW


Amazon, 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, and Mastering Innovation: From Idea to Value Creation will show you how. From the radical innovations that shake up entire industries to the many small innovations that perfect the execution of already successful organizations, this program will show you how to treat innovation as a process, one to be managed and turned into a driver of profits and growth.

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

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

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.

Program Highlights & Benefits

  • Become the catalyst for organization-wide change
  • Uncover the patterns that compose 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

Experience & Impact

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

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 threats and internal opportunities for growth
  • Acquire the tools and principles to actively manage the process of creating and selecting exceptional opportunities, and discover how to direct those opportunities to meet strategic business needs
  • Improve their own creative problem-solving skills and develop these skills 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.

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.

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.

By developing these skills throughout the organization, more employees can be engaged in the process, leading to more effective innovation tournaments and building a culture of innovation.

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.

In-class session topics include:

  • Technological Disruption
  • 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


  • Christian Terwiesch, PhD

    Academic Director

    Andrew M. Heller Professor at the Wharton School; Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions; Professor of Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine; Co-Director, Mack Institute of Innovation Management

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

  • Karl Ulrich, ScD

    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

Participants by Industry

Participants by Job Function

Participants by Region

Innovation Tournament

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

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 the necessary skills and tools to design and implement a tournament for their own organizations.

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