Stanford Graduate School of Business campus


Why do established companies need to innovate? Does it make more sense to incubate internally or create a new external venture? Should you buy or build?

Innovation is never easy, especially in established organizations. Coming up with the right ideas is the first step. Figuring out how to sell them, get support, and implement takes a unique set of innovation skills and innovative leadership.

The organizational innovation curriculum in the Driving Innovation program is carefully designed for senior-level leaders in large companies to help you design, generate, and lead successful innovation. It encompasses design fundamentals, strategy and innovation, and practical tools to use on real-world business challenges. And it will help you answer even more questions, including:

  • Which ideas are worth pursuing?
  • How do you identify and overcome obstacles to change?
  • Should you set up an innovation arm?
  • Do you need to change the culture to support organizational innovation?
  • How do you introduce an entrepreneurial mindset throughout your organization?

The program combines real-time, faculty-led lectures with hands-on innovation challenges. You’ll also have other opportunities to engage directly with Stanford GSB faculty and peers through ice breakers, Q&A, and sessions to capture your learnings.

Program Highlights

Below are just a few of the sessions you’ll attend as part of the program.

Corporate Entrepreneurship

In this session, we will examine the most common and substantial barriers to entrepreneurship and innovation within large organizations. These include factors such as internal organization challenges, restrictive decision-making processes, missing competencies (such as the ability to evaluate innovation), institutional and individual attitudes toward risk, organizational politics, and more. You will then identify the set of tools required for overcoming these challenges.

Thinking Inside the Box

Research shows that you will deliver more creative solutions if assigned a task that includes restrictions compared with a task in which you have free reign. It turns out that, with creative tasks, structure helps. This finding also extends to tasks in which people are asked to ideate new products or develop concepts for marketing campaigns. In this session, we will discuss an approach to product ideation that introduces five templates or “recipes” that can help you structure your thinking and develop both incremental and disruptive ideas. We will discuss each template and practice applying it, workshop-style, to your own products or services.

The Power of Story

Successful innovation creates a new normal, a new way of being for individuals or businesses. Successful innovation disrupts industries; it drives success. We all want to innovate, but how do we do it? To innovate, you not only need a big idea, you also need people to create it and people to buy into it. Story fuels innovation. Stories have long held the power to transform the listener; to take listeners on a journey that changes how they think, feel or act. In business, stories can drive innovation and impact by painting a clear picture of what is and what could be for everyone from employees, to customers, to investors and the media. In these two sessions, we discuss what it means to tell stories in business. What makes an effective story? And when can you use them? We will focus on innovation, but also explore other applications of story.

Leading Change

Organizations totally driven by the market consistently outperform their competition in profitability. These organizations carefully segment their markets and deliver an outstanding value proposition to their target customers. However, truly customer-focused organizations must also pursue more than a sound market strategy; they must align their culture with the target customer value proposition. This session will provide you with the skills to align your organization’s culture with the customer value proposition, and lead the change towards a customer-focused organization.


Christine Coli | Associate Director, Programs, Executive Education
Associate Director Executive Education