Embedding Innovation at Whirlpool

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Whirlpool has been a trusted brand for household appliances for years now. And the reason for its stay in the business is innovation.

Nancy Snyder has been credited for most of the innovative efforts that Whirlpool have been taking. Under Ms. Snyder, the company took into a bold yet successful initiative.

In an interview with Terry Waghorn for Forbes.com, Ms. Synder reveals how she did it, and how Whirlpool embraced the “embedding innovation.” Some insights from the interview:

First, Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool’s chairman, made a company-wide announcement that encouraged every employee to submit their innovative ideas.

Second, created innovation teams, who had to prove their idea on three accounts: benefit the customer; have that competitive advantage and return value to the shareholders, and able to move into the innovation pipeline.

Third, create software tools to help teams collaborate virtually and publish their work across the organization.

Fourth, establish an “I-Mentors” team who helps facilitate the innovation cycle throughout the company.

Fifth, despite the economic recession, Whirlpool is focused not only on reducing cost, but also on the long-term impact of innovation.

Read more…

Ms. Snyder co-authored a book titled, Unleashing Innovation: How Whirlpool Transformed an Industry. There are more insights on innovation there.

Click here for an overview of the book.

2 COMMENTS

  1. An interesting story.

    Toyota is another company that does well from staff ideas. It has reputedly harvested over 20 million ideas from staff in the past 40 years. And 95% of them have been implemented within a short time. It just goes to show that even small ideas, in large enough quantities, can lead to industry-leading innovation. In Toyota’a case, PROCESS innovation.

    Graham Hill
    Customer-driven Innovator
    Follow me on Twitter

    Interested in Customer Driven Innovation? Join the Customer Driven Innovation groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more.

  2. I agree, Graham. I still believe that innovation may cone in different names for different companies, but the idea and the effect are the same. 🙂

    Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. -Bill Gates

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