Case Studies: Whirlpool
AMA Corporate Learning Solutions Success Story:
As the global leader in manufacturing and marketing major home appliances, Whirlpool Corporation’s brands are known and trusted by consumers worldwide. People everywhere depend on the company’s innovative products to meet their needs and improve the quality of their lives.
Innovation is the main idea behind Whirlpool Corporation’s strategy for setting itself apart from the competition. It has become the key to its advantage in an industry crowded with rivals. “Innovation is serious business at Whirlpool and we are always looking for new ways to delight and serve our customers better,” explains core competency trainer Margaret Hanington.
Whirlpool embarked on its innovation journey in 1999 and the challenge continues for the company’s more than 80,000 employees. They continue to be the primary source for ideas that meet consumer needs and desires in new ways. How does Whirlpool foster that continuous innovation.
At Whirlpool, innovative thinking is considered the responsibility of every employee. It’s such an important part of their culture that they see it as a core competency within the organization and have a corporate initiative in place to sustain the commitment company-wide.
Early in the company’s innovation efforts, it became apparent that employees would not only have to be committed to innovation, but also have to learn to think differently in order to get to the truly extraordinary results the company was seeking. Looking outside for a training program to reinforce its existing innovation training, Whirlpool discovered that AMA had just introduced a seminar on the topic of linking creativity to innovation.
“I attended AMA’s ‘Innovation and Creativity’ workshop and found it stimulating and highly enjoyable,” says Hanington. “The seminar had the action-oriented front-end piece of the innovation process to help us energize and engage our employees.”
Whirlpool partnered with AMA to tailor the existing curriculum into a program specific for its environment and culture.
“AMA worked with us to customize an on-site learning experience based on that seminar that helps us keep our employees’ creativity flowing,” says Hanington. AMA piloted an on-site session for a group of core managers and used the feedback received during the session to complete the process. AMA “listened and understood—giving us an end product that really met our needs,” continues Hanington.
Throughout Whirlpool, the workshops have been successful in helping employees remove obstacles to their own creativity. “The class has given our employees new tools and techniques to help them think differently and discover out-of-the-box ideas and solutions,” she says.
Whirlpool’s culture of innovation is based on the belief that original thinking can come from anyone and anywhere within the organization. When employees understand the basis of creativity—and bring what they have to offer to the table—the company benefits.
That’s where AMA can help. “AMA seminars accelerate learning and improve organizational performance,” says Hanington. “The workshops provided our employees with the tools and skill development to help them master change and continue to drive our innovation strategy forward.”
In the end, what’s important is the effect that this culture of innovation has on the company’s bottom line. Hanington is enthusiastic about the possibilities. “Anytime you can unlock a group’s creative potential you can expect and achieve great results,” she says.