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Exhibit 1 – Whirlpool Innovation Timeline with Key innovations
It is not trivial even in today’s world, that when engineers, designers and marketers speak the same language the power of innovation is unlocked. The adoption and adaptation of the double diamond innovation process and its set of tools was key to demonstrating that an established organization could transform itself through its own people and that everyone can innovate. During the years after its initial adoption, our toolkit has continued to evolve to become more accessible and the process has become more integrated with other systems as a means to generate scale.
Exhibit 2 – Whirlpool Corporation’s Triple Diamond Process
Surfacing deep consumer insights is one of the most powerful innovation drivers. During the discovery process this lens is always a must. As a company that does this for a living, we have access to a massive amount of consumer data generated and managed by experts in the field. While leveraging this information is important, a mandatory consumer immersion goes a very long way for the team and for any innovation project. Every time an innovation project is initiated, the teams are asked to create a plan to extract consumer insights by first-hand observation; the use of some tools allows them to create a relevant and robust plan. See exhibit 3 for an example of a consumer insight immersion.
Exhibit 3 – Consumer Insight Example
The level of empathy, context, and passion that is generated will never be achieved by reading 1,000 reports. The results of the immersion approach are synthesized in insights that become the DNA of an innovation project from this early stage until launch and advertising campaigns are created. See exhibit 4 for an example of a consumer insight as output from the discovery work.
Exhibit 4 – Consumer Insight Example
Management Systems – Making innovation part of everyone’s job and hard-wiring it to its modus operandi requires holistic management system thinking. We work across the elements of this system with the help of the framework illustrated. Read tne Hack: Change the Systems, Free the People for a detailed description of Management Systems.
Exhibit 5 – Management Systems Framework
If there is one thing that has been consistent throughout the eras, it is our innovation definition (see exhibit 6). The Executive Committee came to the realization that a clear and concise definition was needed as the decision to scale innovation was made; this would provide clarity, allow us to goal it, and avoid many future discussions about what is innovation and what is not. Sr. leaders were going to be assigned an annual innovation pipeline target– How would that be measured? How would we know how good it was? These and other questions forced this group to think deeply about the purpose of innovation and the results that were expected from it. The result was the innovation definition which represents the essence of why we do innovation and serves several purposes:
- Creates a global, common understanding of what we mean when we say innovation and how innovation is supposed to serve our strategy
- Brings clarity to grey areas and encourages individuals to raise their work to that standard
- Allows us to measure and goal innovation (and the work of those in charge of it) accurately
Exhibit 6 – Whirlpool Corporation Innovation Definition
One thing is to define innovation and another is to have everyone understand it. A scaling mechanism that helped us achieve that was a tool called the “i-box.” Through the use of this tool, teams around the world measure their projects against the innovation definition and put innovations at test. Through its practice and this common language, they have the right conversations and challenge themselves in areas that would improve the “innovativeness” of a project. See Exhibit 7 for an example of the i-box and helpful materials for a full version of it.
Exhibit 7 - Sample of i-box
Once innovation is categorized, we can point to it and measure it. Metrics are directly tied to the definition and focus on the results of our innovation efforts. Whirlpool runs SAP, and for us to measure our innovation at scale we had to modify the system by including a flag on SKUs that identifies when a product meets the definition. This change allows us to run reports to size our pipeline and see the returns innovations are generating in the market (i-revenue and profit lift).
Exhibit 8 – Depiction of Innovation Metrics
The results of the metrics are tracked via an Innovation dashboard that allows us to look at the different metrics in their totality, by region and by major product category.
Exhibit 9 - Innovation Dashboard
It is amazing what a pragmatic limitation on time and resources can do for innovation projects. After teams present the results of the front-end of innovation process and pitch ideas to leadership to get funding, they are asked to prepare and execute a 100- day plan: an experiment no longer than 3 months and costing no more than $10,000 to answer the most important questions that would make or break the project. This approach injects a sense of urgency and sparks an unexpected level of creativity to validate the project hypotheses. This approach is not intended to replace formal consumer research when the time is appropriate, but it forces team members to put some of the most important hypotheses to test. It is always beneficial to have experts supporting this approach to avoid confirmatory bias, a common flaw of asking questions so we get the answers we want. This is also an appropriate time to engage some of our trade customers so we can win their hearts so we can together win the consumers’ hearts. An overview of a 100 day plan is presented in exhibit 10.
Exhibit 10 - 100 Day Plan in Action
Innovation processes are typically focused on the front end. Ours is called the Double Diamond (Discovery & Opportunity Development); they are diamonds because we diverge and converge. But what happens when, 1) an innovation is so disruptive (or unfamiliar) that it requires constant monitoring and adjustment? Or 2), the go to market of some products has to be re-evaluated? To address these two areas we added the Third Diamond of the process we called “Deliver and Grow” also known as “Launch and Love”, emphasizing the need for nurturing innovations in the marketplace.
As we took innovation to a new level, we felt it was necessary to create a platform to make our portfolio more aggressive and diversified. The i-turbo projects were created to infuse this new stretched thinking, support our expansion beyond the core and to accelerate capability building. To achieve these objectives new inputs and management systems were implemented: Each region would run a full frame-breaking discovery phase to generate new, breakthrough ideas. In the Discovery phase, frame-breaking refers to the approach we use to force radically new thinking in a team and a project. This doesn’t necessarily occur every time (although it is encouraged) as it is not always needed. It needs to be carefully planned. It is achieved when new learning is injected into projects in the form of lenses or “new voices” introduced in a planned and methodical way. As a result of this initiative, the innovation competency got a full refresh and level of excitement that resulted in the creation of the Strategic Megatrends, a confluence of trends that would serve as the sandbox for the creation of new innovation projects. See Exhibit 11 for an example of a Strategic Megatrend.
Exhibit 11 - Example of a Strategic Megatrend
As innovation gets momentum and our beyond-the-core strategy continues to advance, the demand for R&D resources increases, pushing Whirlpool to improve its technology capability to rapidly develop new knowledge and technologies while containing costs, budgets and investments in R&D. “Doing more with less” has therefore become an expectation and a structured practice. To develop new knowledge while rationalizing the project expenditures, Whirlpool innovated in its approach to generate technology innovation by opening up the R&D boundaries through the implementation of an Open Innovation strategy for R&D to de-risk innovation and research activities while leveraging public funding and incentives. This has required a significant mind shift of the way our engineers work as they were not always used to "opening the gates” to establish and nurture a true collaborative approach with external partners. Furthermore, a change in the technology development strategy was put in place to create flexibility and align the internal technology roadmaps with the requirements of the public bodies. To enable and support this transformation, Mauro Piloni, Vice President of R&D established the External Funding and Open Innovation (EF&OI) unit in 2011. This unit is led by Enrica Monticelli, 2012 winner of the “International Prize for Women and Technology” in innovation, and acts as a catalyst to different needs coming from the internal R&D categories, proactively managing and coordinating our technology strategic partnerships and the application to public funding initiatives against our roadmaps.