Photo of David Robertson

David Robertson

Practice Professor

Links: Personal Website

Contact Information

Address: 3730 Walnut Street, 549 Jon M. Huntsman Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Email: drobe@wharton.upenn.edu
Office: (215) 573-3571

Overview

David Robertson joined the faculty of the Wharton School in 2011. He teaches Innovation and Product Development in Wharton’s undergraduate, MBA, and executive education programs. 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 (similar to Wharton’s AMP program). 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, and other journals. His next book, Brick by Brick: How LEGO Reinvented its Innovation System and Conquered the Toy Industry, will be published by Crown Business in the Spring of 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.

 

Publications

Books:

David Robertson with Bill Breen, Brick by Brick: How LEGO Reinvented its Innovation System and Conquered the Toy Industry, forthcoming from Crown Business, 2013.

Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill, and David Robertson, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, Harvard Business School Press, 2006.

Articles:

David Robertson and Per Hjuler, “Innovating a Turnaround at LEGO,” Harvard Business Review, September 2009.

“Transforming a Company Project by Project: The IT Engagement Model” (with Nils Fonstad). MIS Quarterly Executive, Vol 5, No 1 (March 2006).

“Planning for Product Platforms” (with Karl Ulrich). Sloan Management Review, Vol 39, No 4 (Summer 1998): pp. 19-31.

“Beyond Supplier Tiers: Facing the Platforming Challenge” (with Lance Ealey and Jeff Sinclair). The Economist Intelligence Unit Motor Business International, 1st Quarter 1996: pp. 107-119.

“Sharing Parts Across Car Models: Lessons from the Manufacturers” (with Jorgen Ericsson, Per-Ola Karlsson, and Glenn Mercer). The Economist Intelligence Unit Motor Business International, 1996.

“Why Product Development Improvement Projects Fail, and What You Can Do About It” (with Lance Ealey, George Kerschbaumer, and Matt Trerotola). (McKinsey internal document)

“How Competitive Are US Manufacturers?” (with A. Steven Walleck and Heinz-Peter Elstrodt). The McKinsey Quarterly, 1992 No. 2: pp. 105-113.

"CAD Systems Use and Engineering Performance" (with Thomas Allen). IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 40, No. 3 (August 1993): pp. 274-282.

"Managing CAD Systems in Mechanical Design Engineering." (with Thomas Allen). IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, Vol. 39, No. 1 (February 1992): pp. 22-31.

Case Studies:

“Innovation at the LEGO Group (A) and (B),” IMD Cases 3-1978 and 3-1979.

“Driving Innovation: The Birth of CarMax (A) and (B),” IMD Cases 3-1867 and 3-1868.

“Mattson: A New Recipe for Innovation (A), (B), and (C)” IMD Cases 3-1628, 1629, and 1630.

“ING DIRECT: Your Other Bank.” IMD Case 3-1343.

“ING DIRECT: The IT Challenge (A) and (B).” IMD Cases 3-1344 and 3-1345.

“Merloni Elettrodomestici UK: What Platform For Growth?” IMD Case 6-0260.

“Swisscom Mobile: The SAMBA Initiative.” IMD Case 3-1342.

“Liverpool City

Courses

Current

  • 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.

    OPIM415402 

  • 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.

    OPIM614001 

    OPIM614701 

    OPIM614751 

  • 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.

    OPIM654001 

Previous

  • 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.

  • OPIM651 - Innovation, Problem Solving and Design

    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.