Never forget that a small group of committed citizens can change the world," said Margaret Mead, the renowned anthropologist. "Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
One woman who changed the world, or at least the destiny of her company, was Nancy Snyder of Whirlpool, whom we first met in the I-SKILL #2 chapter. At the time, the Michigan-based appliance manufacturer faced the forces of a major disruption. Not a fast-erupting storm, it was more of a slow unraveling of its business model. Its major products—dishwashers, washers, and dryers—were becoming a commodity, and prices were dropping at the rate of 3.4 percent a year. Its stock price was stuck. Growth had stalled. Whirlpool customers were not loyal to brand and the company was entering a recession.
Chief executive officer (CEO) Dave Whitwam was aware of these issues, and he had a sudden epiphany while visiting an appliance store. "I've got pretty good eyesight," he recalled. "But as I looked at a row of washers, even I couldn't tell ours from the competition." Whitwam knew his company had to transform itself, and he believed a fundamentally new approach to innovation was required.
Soon thereafter, Whitwam tapped an obscure organization development specialist to help him radically transform Whirlpool Corporation. His goal for the company: Embed innovation into every job. The new motto became: "Innovation from everyone and ...