Innovation at the Center
I found an interesting article on Forbes.com about Nancy Snyder, a leader in stimulating innovation at Whirpool. Look around your house and it's likely you have more than a few Whirlpool products -- it's the world's largest manufacturer of household appliances.
For Snyder and her colleagues, innovation is not an "extra" but a core competency to be developed in their organization.
From the article:
Under Nancy's leadership, Whirlpool began a bold initiative in 1999 to greatly increase the new ideas emerging within the company and change where they came from and how they were implemented.Creating an Innovation Pipeline
In other words, her team's goal was nothing less than embedding, as she put it, innovation as part of the core of the company's operations.
What is key to making innovation central at Whirlpool? From my reading of the article, it lies in creating an "innovation pipeline" which includes:
- Image via Wikipediaenrolling every salaried employee in a business innovation course,
- tying management's long-term bonuses to its innovativeness,
- building an innovation Intranet portal that would offer everyone in the company a common forum for learning principles of innovation,
- keeping abreast of recent research,
- tracking the progress of ideas from concept toward realization, and
- volunteering to work on one another's projects.
- It had to bring a benefit to the customer,
- it had to create a competitive advantage and
- it needed to return value to our shareholders.
Whirlpool now has a team of about 1,100 innovation mentors, what they call "I-Mentors." They volunteer to facilitate the innovation cycle throughout the company.
Resources from the Whirlpool Innovation Gurus
Snyder is co-author of two books on innovation:
Unleashing Innovation: How Whirlpool Transformed an Industry
Strategic Innovation: Embedding Innovation as a Core Competency in Your Organization
The article is at Forbes.com and includes an interview with Nancy Snyder.
Stay Tuned for Parts 2 & 3 in the Series
Tomorrow, I will apply these principles to congregations in Embedding Innovation at the Core of Your Organization Part 2.
The day after in Part 3, I will share some of my research -- examples of innovation processes from an innovative congregation.