Photo of David Robertson

David Robertson

Practice Professor

Links: Innovation Navigation Radio Show, Personal Website

Contact Information

Address: 3730 Walnut Street, 549 Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 573-3571


David Robertson joined the faculty of the Wharton School in 2011. He is a Professor of Practice and teaches Innovation and Product Development in Wharton’s undergraduate, MBA, and executive education programs. David is also the host of the weekly radio show "Innovation Navigation", which is recorded live every Tuesday between 8 and 10am ET. The show offers unscripted access to world-renowned thought leaders, executives, and faculty.  Broadcasting from The Wharton School’s Ivy League campus via Sirius XM’s trailblazing Wharton Business Radio channel, the program delivers invaluable advice for executives or managers who want to boost their organization’s ability to innovate.  For more on the show, see the show's web site:

From 2002 through 2010, Robertson was the LEGO Professor of Innovation and Technology Management at Switzerland’s Institute for Management Development (IMD).  At IMD, Robertson was the Co-Director of the school’s largest executive education program, the Program for Executive Development. He also directed programs for Credit Suisse, EMC, HSBC, Skanska, BT, and other leading European companies. Prior to IMD, David was a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, a consultant at McKinsey & Company for 5 years, and an executive at four enterprise software companies. David received his MBA and PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management and BS from the University of Illinois.

David’s research interests are in innovation management – how companies can get more from their innovation investments. He has published in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, Wired, and other journals, and has appeared on CNN, NPR, and Bloomberg TV. His latest book, Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry, was published by Crown Business in June 2013. In addition to his research and teaching activities, David consults with many US and European companies to help them improve their innovation management systems.



David is currently hard at work on his next book, expected some time before he retires in 2025.



  • OPIM415 - Product Design

    This course provides tools and methods for creating new products. The course is intended for students with a strong career interest in new product development , entrepreneurship, and/or technology development. The course follows an overall product design methodology, including the identification of customer needs, generation of product concepts, prototyping, and design-for-manufacturing. Weekly student assignments are focused on the design of a new product and culminate in the creation of a prototype. The course is open to juniors and seniors in SEAS or Wharton.

  • OPIM614 - Innovation

    The course is first and foremost an intensive, integrative, project course in which student teams create one or more real businesses. Some businesses spun out of the course and now managed by alumni include Terrapass Inc. and Smatchy Inc. The project experience is and exciting context in which to learn key tools and fundamentals useful in innovation, problem solving, and design. Examples of these tools and fundamentals are: problem definition, identification of opportunities, generating alternatives, selecting among alternatives, principles of data graphics, and managing innovation pipelines. The course requires a commitment of at least 10 hours of work outside of class and comfort working on unstructured, interdisciplinary problems. Students with a strong interest in innovation and entrepreneurship are particularly encouraged to enroll. Please read carefully the syllabus posted on-line before registering for this course.

  • OPIM654 - Product Design and Development

    The course provides the student with a number of tools and concepts necessary for creating and managing product development processes.The course consists of two interwoven parts. First, it presents the basic steps that are necessary for moving from a "cool idea" to a product sufficiently mature to launch an entrepreneurial start-up. This includes cases, lectures, and exercises on topics like identifying customer needs, developing a product concept as well as effective prototyping strategies. The capstone of this first part is a real project in which student teams conceptualize and develop a new product or service up to the completion of a fully functional prototype.

    Second, the course discusses a number of challenges related to product development as encountered by management consultants, members of cross-functional development teams as well as general managers. We will analyze several cases related to, among others, resource allocation in R&D organizations, organizational forms of product development teams, as well as managing development projects across large geographic distances.