HOW DOES THE WHIRLPOOL CASES ANSWER TO PORTER STRATEGY? Top management at Whirlpool Corporation (with 59 manufacturing and technology centres around the world and sales in some 170 countries totalling $19 billion in 2013) has a vision of Whirlpool appliances in “Every Home Everywhere with Pride, Passion, and Performance.” One of management’s chief objectives in pursuing this vision is to build unmatched customer loyalty to the Whirlpool brand. Whirlpool’s strategy to win the hearts and minds of appliance buyers the world over has been to produce and market appliances with top-notch quality and innovative features that users will find appealing. In addition, Whirlpool’s strategy has been to offer a wide selection of models (recognizing that buyer tastes and needs differ) and to strive for low-cost production efficiency, thereby enabling Whirlpool to price its products very competitively. Executing this strategy at

Whirlpool’s operations in North America (where it is the market leader), Latin America (where it is also the market leader), Europe (where it ranks third), and Asia (where it is number one in India and has a foothold with huge growth opportunities elsewhere) has involved a strong focus on continuous improvement, lean manufacturing capabilities, and operating excellence. To marshal the efforts of its 69,000 employees in executing the strategy successfully, management developed a comprehensive Operational Excellence program with Six Sigma one of the centrepieces. The Operational Excellence initiative, which began in the 1990s, incorporated Six Sigma techniques to improve the quality of Whirlpool products and, at the same lower costs and trim the time it took to get product innovations to the marketplace. The Six Sigma project helped Whirlpool save $175 million in manufacturing costs in its first three years. To sustain the productivity gains and cost savings, Whirlpool embedded Six Sigma practices within each of its manufacturing facilities worldwide and instilled a culture based on Six Sigma and lean manufacturing and capabilities. In 2002, each of Whirlpool’s operating, units began taking the Six Sigma initiative to a higher level by first placing the needs of the customer at the centre of every function—R&D, technology, manufacturing, marketing, and administrative support—and then striving to consistently improve quality levels while eliminating unnecessary costs. The company systematically went through every aspect of its business with the view company personnel should perform every activity at every level in a manner that delivers value to the customer and leads to continuous improvement on how things are done. Whirlpool management believes that the company’s Operational Excellence process has been a major contributor in sustaining the company’s position as the leading global manufacturer and marketer of home appliances.

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