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Implementing Innovation

Reinventing Innovation


Companies today are hungry for innovation.  But companies fail to implement most of the innovations they invent, buy, or borrow.  Many leaders and managers need not only cost-effective methods to implement product or process innovations, but capabilities for innovating which can be sustained and repeated.

Implementing Innovation is about both learning and doing.  When you participate in the program, you will learn how to overcome obstacles to innovating, and you will start overcoming them.Implementing Innovation tackles the topic on a personalized level. You will work on a specific innovative challenge and engage in pre-work before the program begins. During the program, you'll work in small groups, and when the program concludes, you'll go back to your organization with an action plan. After the program, you can elect to receive continued support from Columbia Business School—checking in on your progress related to your company's innovative challenge.


Pre-program, in a phone interview with Professor Abrahamson, you will agree on an innovation you will refine and implement. During the program you will develop an implementation action plan with Professor Abrahamson, facilitators, and colleague consulting with other program participants. Post program, you will implement the innovation and have the option to review and redirect your progress with Professor Abrahamson.

  • Learn how to perform an innovation audit within your organization
  • Practice using the audit to identify ways to implement innovation and to improve yours and your unit’s ability to innovate
  • Create a customized individual and organizational plan to launch, intensify, or redirect innovation in your organization or unit
  • Draw support and ideas from a community of Reinventing Innovation program participants
  • You will see how innovation can be integrated into an organization in many ways, but always effectively, sustainably, and with an eye on cost efficiency.
  • Gain a new understanding of innovation that will help you move your company into an innovation-centric mindset

Upon completion of this program, you will earn four days towards your Certificate in Business Excellence. Learn more.


Implementing Innovation will help participants create greater efficiency and quality, achieve faster reorientation, provide better new business development, ensure faster market penetration, allow for greater profitability, and lay the foundation for more robust growth. Using Eric Abrahamson’s six-dimension innovation model, each participant will establish a disciplined, repeatable, and scalable innovation process.

Participants will also learn a step-by-step method to customize these six dimensions for their organizations and its sub-units. By doing so, executives will gain increased awareness of the distinct capabilities they should develop during the program in order to manage and lead each type of configuration successfully.

The work begins not long after applications are accepted. Program staff will contact participants to better understand their objectives regarding innovation challenges at their organizations. Faculty members and doctoral students will interview participants to learn more about the specific challenges. Doctoral students also will conduct preliminary research on the topics.

During the program, coursework, presentations, and a daily workshop will ensure that participants are on-track to address their specific challenges. Participants will be contacted four months after the program ends to review and redirect their work. They will also be invited to participant in the reinventing innovation community.

Sample Session Titles:

Day 1
Reinventing Innovation: Selecting the Right Techniques to Innovate at the Specific Stage in Your Firm’s or Units' Life-Cycle.
• Recognizing your personal strengths and challenges in leading innovation at each life-cycle stage
• Capitalizing on pre-program preparations for focusing innovation at your firm
• Techniques for the inventing innovations stage – tools for intuition, creativity, and improvisation

Day 2
Strategies for Innovating at the Commercialization and Growth Stages: Real Option Tools for Selecting which Innovations to Commercialize and Grow
• Techniques for innovating at the optimization stage – cost-efficient tools to innovate in product, process, and service design
• Capitalizing on pre-program preparation for diagnosing where to make and let innovation happen at your firm
• Exemplary innovative firms at each life cycle stage – creating self-reinforcing configurations of organizational culture, structure, processes, people, and social networks
• Listening to and conversing with some jazz musicians – what they can teach us about improvisation, creativity, and innovation

Day 3
Disciplined Innovation: How Precisely is One Large Firm Maximizing Creativity and Efficiency at the Optimization Stage
• The innovation mindset – exiting old markets and inventing new ones at the invention to optimization stage transition
• Capitalizing on pre-program preparations to customize innovation techniques for your firm
• Organizational ecosystems – how networks of organizations can co-create innovations at each life-cycle stage
• Comedy Club – the serious impact of fun on innovation

Day 4
How the Imitation of Innovations Destroys Competitive Advantage: Stage-Based Strategies for Inimitable Innovating.
• Practical Lessons from Entrepreneurship
• Capitalizing on pre-program preparations to implement techniques to make and let innovation happen at your firm
• Presentations of practicum work accomplished during the program
• Planning post-program follow up at each participants’ firm

Audience & Testimonials

Implementing Innovation is designed for upper- to senior-level management in organizations that have been unable to move quickly and innovate. Those in fast-moving, innovation-driven industries such as technology, healthcare, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, consumer products or telecommunications industries would especially benefit from the curriculum.

Alumni and up to four of their colleagues are eligible for a 25 percent tuition benefit for programs lasting up to seven days. More on the Alumni Tuition Benefit.

What recent participants say about Implementing Innovation:

"If you're looking to make innovation strategic and an integrated capability in your organization, this is an excellent program."  – Jürgen Tanghe, Managing Director, Kite Consultants

"Terrific course that offered me a new way to think about, reflect, and implement my execute responsibilities."  – Dr. Timothy Collins, Business Area Executive, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

"Cutting edge, relevant, superior quality program that provides a new set of eyes to appreciate the importance of innovation."  – Jose Collazo, Vice President, COLSA Corporation


Eric Abrahamson, Faculty Director
Hughie E. Mills Professor of Business
Bernstein Faculty Leader, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership & Ethics

Eric Abrahamson grounds his teaching and writing in scholarly research and has authored numerous scientific studies of leaders, managers, and their organizations in top-ranked academic journals. His classes focus on leadership, organizational problem solving, change management, and how leaders and managers should use power and influence in order to overcome resistance to their strategic goals.

Prof. Abrahamson has taught executives in many organizations around the world. He has also written two books for professional managers. His first book, Change Without Pain, was awarded the top business book of the year ranking as well as the best book for 2004 on the topic of change management by Strategy+Business magazine. Professor Abrahamson’s most recent book, A Perfect Mess, has been widely publicized and translated into twenty-three languages.

Along with Professor Abrahamson, additional Columbia Business School faculty contribute to and teach in the program.


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Earn Your Certificate

The Certificate in Business Excellence (CIBE) is awarded to participants who complete a total of 18 program days within a four-year period.

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