Innovation is a hot topic in today’s management circles as businesses are organizing around the creation and implementation of new ideas. At Whirlpool, executives are held accountable not only for the development of new products and services, but also for the creation of processes and systems that foster innovation.

One tactic for engaging employees in the innovation process is something Carlson Marketing’s Director of Performance Improvement Jennifer Rosenzweig, calls "appreciative inquiry." This is a technique for emphasizing a company’s unique strengths (appreciative) while at the same time developing a meaningful and robust dialogue with employees (inquiry) that seeks to help management understand when the company is moving in the right direction or not.

Carlson Marketing’s research shows that given the opportunity, nearly 50 percent of employees will engage in identifying and implementing ideas. But "squandered" or untapped ideas are a major source of employee frustration and disengagement. A recent Gallup report shows that 17 percent of all the employees it surveyed consider themselves "disengaged" at work.

Read how Whirlpool and Toyota are harvesting employee-generated innovation.