Innovation at Whirlpool - Creating a New Competency|Human Resource|Organization Behavior|Case Study|Case Studies

Innovation at Whirlpool - Creating a New Competency

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Case Details:

Case Code : HROB081
Case Length : 21 Pages
Period : 1999-2006
Pub. Date : 2006
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Whirlpool Corporation
Industry : Electricals and Electronics
Countries : USA, Europe

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Need for a Change in Corporate Culture

By the late 1999, the top management at Whirlpool found itself unable to drive growth in its businesses. The company's revenues, profits, and market share were stagnant. And this, despite the fact that Whirlpool had adopted various operational initiatives to cut costs and achieve economies of scale in its operations. In December 2000, Whirlpool announced that it would cut 10% of its international workforce and initiate restructuring of its global operations...

Innovation as a Core Competency

Whitwam believed that only innovative products could command premium prices and build customer loyalty. He emphasized the need to develop a culture that would spur Whirlpool's growth through consumer-focused innovation. This would be a part of the company's competitive strategy. In fact, Whitwam wanted to make innovation a core competency at Whirlpool.

Moreover, he did not want creativity to be limited to a few people in the organization; he wanted all the employees to be creative. Nancy T Snyder (Snyder), vice president of leadership and strategic competency development at Whirlpool, explained, "We had this internal market of people we weren't tapping into...

Human Resource and Organization Behavior | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Human Resource and Organization Behavior, Case Studies

Laying the Foundation

In late 1999, Whitwam started the innovation initiative by inviting ideas from all the employees. He felt that a direct call to employees was needed to ensure that no brilliant ideas got lost in the corporate hierarchy. In order to bring out creative ideas, 25 employees from the company's European arm were released from their routine job and sent to Whirlpool's European headquarters at Comerio, Italy, for one year. Their sole assignment was to brainstorm and come out with ideas regarding new products or services that would truly differentiate Whirlpool's offerings from those of its rivals...

Building the Framework

While the core groups were being trained, Snyder focused on getting the rest of the company's global workforce involved in the initiative through the Internet and innovation fairs. Strategos helped Whirlpool to put the necessary infrastructure in place and to use Information Technology (IT) to facilitate the objective.

Whirlpool re-engineered management processes that slowed down innovation and used IT to improve and accelerate the innovation chain from idea to final product. Instead of going in for a few big projects, it encouraged many low-cost "stratlets" (also known as small strategies)...

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