Do you have innovation embedded into your organization?
It’s a simple yes or no question. Either it is or it isn’t. If it is, your strategic business goals are aligned with technological innovation, helping to pave a road ahead to where your organization dreams it can be.
If your answer is a no, you have some work to do.
A good example of this is Whirlpool.
If you grew up in North America between 1950 and 1999, your vision of Whirlpool may be a line of factory workers, assembling parts and screws into laundry and kitchen appliances, packed in brown boxes as far as the eye could see.
Today’s Whirlpool is quite different. With strategic planning, innovation and technology, they have switched their focus from commodity-based to technology-based. They currently employ over 60,000 workers, spanning over 170 countries with 13 high tech manufacturing sites and 18 world class technology centers that house engineers who are designing virtually with their colleagues around the world.
There is innovation and technology through the entire experience, from hiring to manufacturing all the way through to the buying experience, maximizing every touch point.
And it’s continuously moving and growing.
That’s the key to technology and innovation in your core. It moves, empowers and pushes every single employee to think how you can do what you do better. A lot of people use the term automation, and while that’s technically correct, as a CEO you might have reservations about that term. Automation can mean so many vastly different things, but automation can come into play any time you look at your operations and see where an automated process might make your company more effective. Some questions to get you started in terms of thinking about your operational competence from an innovation standpoint:
- Would you consider your operations transparent? For example, does your entire team have access to progress reports for each customer and project?
- When the hand-off of tasks happens, do items often “fall through the cracks”?
- Can you tell when a department is struggling?
- Is there a process for accountability for each of your staff?
- If someone offered you or one of your key staff a free trip, but the catch was the departure was the very next day, would you feel okay about taking that time away from the business? Are you confident in the systems you have in place?
Answering no to any one of these questions can take a huge toll on the bottom line and well-being of the dedicated individuals who work for you. Be honest about how much you are harnessing technology and innovation in your business.
The Global Director of innovation at Whirlpool said it best when he wrote “after 90 years of constant growth and invention, Whirlpool was looking for a platform to enter the 21st century in a stronger position. We achieved this by focusing on driving consumer preference by embedding innovation as a core competency – which everyone at Whirlpool would be part of. Our 13-year quest for an embedded innovation approach has answered these challenges with creative approaches that have allowed us to stay focused, relevant and competitive. One would think that after the big-bang approach to embed innovation in the early 2000s we would be in auto-pilot by now, but each phase has required the same level of attention from the innovation architects (those creating blueprints and building innovation capability) to take innovation to new heights.”