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.