During its 95-year history, Whirlpool has become an expert in manufacturing excellence with its classic white appliances engineered for efficiency, long-lasting life, and low price. Periodically the products have received a facelift or a small improvement in function and performance, but this usually amounted to little more than a new wash cycle option.
At Whirlpool, where efficiency was king, the idea of innovation as a key to success met considerable resistance. Corporate director Nancy Snyder said, “Over the years people have used many nice adjectives to describe Whirlpool. But ‘innovative’ has rarely been among them.” Initial efforts at innovation produced some new products. Expenses, however, far exceeded any positive results from those innovations, and when the former CEO tried to push all 61,000 employees to exercise their creativity, most employees saw the effort as a waste of time and employee moral dropped.
Nonetheless, without significant innovation, Whirlpool will find itself in a never-ending price-cutting battle. In its second attempt at an innovation campaign, Whirlpool worked to establish innovation as a cornerstone of company strategy, creating three “I-Boards” of senior managers to evaluate effort and fund new ideas. 600 mid-level managers were trained as “I-Mentors” in innovation tools and techniques to encourage and evaluate new ideas. The training of 22,000 employees to look for product and marketing innovations brought about new ideas that helped increase annual sales from $350 million to over $3 billion.
Looking for new innovative ideas is not just a matter of finding one-big hit either. It’s often a matter of finding small but continual processes or improvements. Teams comprised of employees from different areas of the company developed more colorful and appealing refrigerators, stacking washer/dryer combinations, and dishwashers with “turbo zones” for cleaning particularly crusty dishes.
To manage resistance, Whirlpool management created what it calls the Innovation Embedment S-Curve, a five-stage model that demonstrates the importance of innovation and how it becomes established in an organization. Ultimately, this will help the organization see the value of innovation as a key to success and mobilizes them to create new opportunities for the company.
121.Refer to Whirlpool. Whirlpool approaches innovation using frequent design iterations, frequent testing, regular milestones, multifunctional teams, and powerful leadership. It uses the _____ approach to innovation.
122.Refer to Whirlpool. Which of the following statements about how Whirlpool manages innovation is true?
a.Whirlpool risks rapid organizational decline and dissolution because it manages innovation by allowing technological discontinuities.
b.Whirlpool will slowly deteriorate because it cannot manage incremental innovation.
c.Whirlpool can use the same techniques to manage innovation during periods of technological discontinuity and during periods of incremental change.
d.The management of innovation at Whirlpool ended with the development of a dominant design.
e.None of these statements about how Whirlpool manages innovation is true.
123.Refer to Whirlpool. Which of the following methods for overcoming resistance to change would Whirlpool probably NOT have used?
a.education and communication
124.Refer to Whirlpool. The effort at Whirlpool was directed from the top down. In order to use their support as a tool for overcoming resistance to change, Whirlpool’s top managers not only had to talk about the importance of change, but also had to:
a.provide any necessary employee training
b.provide any resources as that were needed
c.allow employees autonomy to make the change happen
d.make necessary changes with the company’s suppliers
e.do all of these
125.Refer to Whirlpool. While they managed the change that made Whirlpool a leader in innovation and risk-taking, its employees were required to go through three steps. These were:
a.unfreezing, change intervention, and refreezing
b.organizational change, departmental change, and individual change
c.change definition, change motivation, and change
d.synthesizing, motivating, and rewarding
e.change definition, change mobilization, and change acceptance