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 faculty-led lectures with hands-on experience. During the program, you’ll collaborate with peers and apply the frameworks you learn to real-world innovation challenges. You’ll also have other opportunities to exchange ideas with Stanford GSB faculty and peers through ice breakers, Q&A, and other activities throughout the week.

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.

Neuroscience to Inform Decision-Making

The exponential growth in our understanding of the workings of the human brain has led to a rather startling and maybe embarrassing (even depressing) conclusion.

While the human brain is unique among species in its ability to strategize, conceptualize, hypothesize, memorize, etc., it is now undeniable that most human decisions are shaped by nonconscious instinctual neural systems and processes.

In these sessions, you will first gain an understanding of the workings of the instinctual brain and then leverage that understanding to be more effective at making decisions and influencing others’ (e.g., key stakeholders’) decisions.

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.

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.

Becoming a Friction Fixer

Every organization is plagued by destructive friction. Drawing from seven years of hands-on research, you will learn how to identify where to avert and repair bad organizational friction and where to maintain and inject good friction. You will learn how friction fixers do their work, from reframing friction troubles they can’t fix right now, so they feel less threatening, to designing and repairing organizations. Finally, we will discuss the causes and solutions for five of the most common and damaging friction troubles: oblivious leaders, addition sickness, broken connections, jargon monoxide, and fast and frenzied people and teams.


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