Curtis and Dudley Carlson Value Creation Initiative

Value creation skills enable you to make an impact and to do things that matter to others. Value creation is being integrated within the project-based approach pioneered by WPI.

The goal at WPI is to make an impact—to make a difference for others. Impact is achieved through value creation, and programs are available for students, faculty, and staff to master these essential skills.

Curt Carlson ’67, former CEO of SRI international in Silicon Valley, helped create HDTV and Siri. The value creation methods responsible for those world-changing innovations are now taught at WPI.

WPI’s Global Project Program student teams use value creation concepts to solve local problems in communities around the globe. (Ghana Project Center)

The Curtis and Dudley Carlson Value Creation Initiative at WPI

Innovation for Impact (i4i)

Value Creation: How You Bring World-Changing Innovations to Life


You came to WPI to make an impact. Impact is when you solve problems that matter to others, and value creation is how you make it happen. WPI wants our graduates to be the world’s best value creators and innovators—the people who create the innovations that positively change the world.

Why It Matters to You

Mastering value creation is one professional skill that only becomes more valuable over your entire career. Learning how to create value allows you to have a career with greater achievement, more meaning, and lots of enjoyment.  Few professionals have these skills today; those who do are in constant demand and sought out by others. 

Why WPI?

WPI’s distinctive project-based approach to education allows students to learn and apply value creation concepts and practices in a way they won’t find at another institution. Students may graduate with a distinctive value creation certificate that signals to the world they have prized skills that no other university provides.

At WPI, value creation is taught by world-changing innovators responsible for HDTV and Siri now on the iPhone. Using the NABC framework, these experts guide students in learning and mastering the fundamentals of value creation.  

Join Us

Join us to become one of the world’s best value creators and innovators. We incorporate these methods throughout the curriculum—in special events, within general coursework, in graduate student research and development, and in all team projects. 


Jeremy Trilling Sees a Future Full of Flight

With an imagination fueled by 1980s animation and a future-forward outlook, Jeremy Trilling looks to create air travel that is going to make a real difference to the way people and objects move around the world. 


Curtis and Dudley Carlson Support WPI

Even before the Value Creation Initiative launched at WPI, Curtis and Dudley Carlson supported the efforts of the university because they believe in its mission.

Active Learning

WPI’s Value Creation Initiative (VCI) is based on a proven method of combining value creation principles with the repeated practice of those lessons and then applying them to a real-world problem.

Five Disciplines

Value creation principles are based on these five disciplines:

  • Important customer and market needs
  • Value creation process
  • Innovation champions
  • Innovation teams
  • Organizational alignment

Students learn that they need to be able to communicate easily so value creation means teams have shared language, concepts, and tools such as the following common value creation terms:

  • Innovation: creation and delivery of new customer value in the marketplace with a sustainable business or other model
  • Customer value = benefits/costs
  • 3-Cs: a Venn diagram showing the market space with an unmet customer need, you have the capabilities to address it, and where the competition is weak or missing at first
  • Value Factor Analysis: a spreadsheet to help evaluate your value proposition against the competition and alternatives
  • Bring-It-to-Life: an unforgettable image or story capturing your value proposition
  • Mini-Max: a methodology for minimizing risk to maximize value
Need, Approach, Benefits, Competition (NABC) Framework

A value proposition framework is often referred to as a NABC (look at the NABC card to find out more) which begins with a hook—a purpose and audience-specific grabber is defined as follows:

1. Need
  • Important unmet customer and market need with “pain point”
  • Ecosystem: trends, disruptions, business models, players, …
  • 3-Cs white space and beachhead customers: size and growth rates
  • Key insights: the few reasons why the need has not been previously addressed and why it is now possible​
2. Approach
  • Working hypotheses — offering and business model
  • Bring-it-to-Life, risk mitigation plan, proof points, and MVPs
  • Initial development plan with milestones and resources required
  • Innovation champion and team
  • After a compelling value proposition is created, then a complete proposal or business plan is developed — timing, financing, production, supply chain, distribution, partners, sales,
3. Benefits per costs (value)
  • Customers
  • Investors, employees, and partners
4. Competition and alternatives
  • Now and in the future by name
  • Value Factor Analysis
  • Golden Nugget competitive advantage
  • Contingency plan for competitive response

After completing an NABC, teams take the next action of completing a brief summary and outlining next steps.

Value Creation Forums

Value creation forums are recurring, multidisciplinary, and facilitated meetings of three to five teams.

  • Each team gives a 2 to 10-minute NABC value proposition with team feedback that covers each of the following points:
    • What was good
    • How can it be improved
    • Eyes of the customer or stakeholder
    • Eyes of the funder or investor

Evaluate the quality of the feedback

Each forum follows specific guidelines:

  • Stand and listen: no talking back
  • Quantify: no bigger better, faster, cheaper
  • Illustrate, graph, simulate, model, and prototype
  • Unrelenting iteration — intense learning and improvement

    between forums with teammates, customers, and partners
Morgan-Worcester Distinguished Instructorship Award

If you want to see what value creation looks like, watch any of the value creation videos. The videos show just how to identify problems that matter, learn about the feedback process, present the value of your initiative, and move forward successfully.

Value creation taught me the importance of asking, ‘Why are you working on a particular issue?’ and ‘Who cares about it?

High-impact Innovation

WPI alumni have founded and run companies too numerous to mention. They have fashioned the infrastructure that supports our way of life. They have made discoveries and explored new territory—physical and metaphorical. With their ideas, imagination, and knowledge, their creativity, and their indomitable spirit, they have helped build the world we know.  Our students today benefit from their legacy and, too, have a role in paving a path to a brighter future for all of us.  You, too, can be a value creator.

Meet the Founders

Curt Carlson ’67
WPI students obtain the education they need to be life-long value creators in the global innovation economy. They get hands-on experience in team-based problem solving, a global perspective, and an understanding of customer focused value creation.
  • Curt Carlson ’67
  • WPI Trustee, Hall of Luminaries Inductee, Executive-in-Residence

Read Innovation for Impact by Curt Carlson ’67, in Harvard Business Review, November 2020

Len Polizzotto ’70
If you are doing a project, you want to make sure it’s a project people care about. Solving a problem that people have—that’s what leads to innovation.
  • Len Polizzotto ’70
  • WPI Executive-in-Residence
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