David Robertson

David Robertson
  • Lecturer

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    3730 Walnut Street
    549 Jon M. Huntsman Hall
    Philadelphia, PA 19104


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:  www.innonavi.com

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.

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


Past Courses

  • OIDD415 - 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, which is launched at an end-of-semester public Design Fair. The course project is a physical good - but most of the tools and methods apply to services and software products. The course is open to any Penn sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student.

  • OIDD614 - 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.

In the News

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