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Whirlpool Case Study

Essay by   •  June 21, 2011  •  Essay  •  759 Words (4 Pages)  •  5,695 Views

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Week one poses three different questions to our group. The first question asks our group to characterize a product decisions as structured or unstructured. Question number two asks us to evaluate Whirlpool's chief designer, Chuck Jones and the process he uses to make design change. Last, question three asks us to list the criteria Whirlpool uses to make decisions on design. In this paper our group will discuss each question at length and provide written answers for all three of question.

To answer the first question, would you characterize product design decisions as structured or unstructured, we must first understand the difference between a structured and unstructured problem and or decision. First, according to (Robbins & Coulter, 2009) structured decisions are those defined as "straight forward, familiar, and easily defined". Unstructured decisions are defined as (Robbins & Coulter, 2009) "problems that are new or unusual and for which information is ambiguous or incomplete".

In this scenario, the designing industry had no past procedure established for consideration of value on design changes. Since Chuck took it upon himself to create this process by establishing focus groups to review changes as well as other marketing considerations, this would be best considered an unstructured problem that Chuck turned into an industry standard. Now let's look at question number two.

Question two wants us to describe and evaluate the process Chuck went through to change the way design decisions were made and describe and evaluate the company's new design decision process. Chuck Jones set out to change the design process that Whirlpool was using from a return on investment approach to an approach backed by data. When the resource allocation team asked Chuck to provide proof that his new design ideas would pay off for Whirlpool he was unable to give the team solid financial data. The first step in changing the process that Chuck took was to survey other companies that he viewed to be in similar situations. Chuck found out that very few companies had a process for determining future results with something other than past performance. Chuck would need to come up with a plan to measure how customers would react to future design changes. Positive reactions would then equate to the financial return on investment that the resource team wanted. Whirlpool's new design process would focus on the customer. The company went back to putting the customer first and worked to meet the needs of those that were buying the products. The new designs that Chuck and others would come up with would be first presented to customer focus groups. These groups would be measured on their responses to several measurements. The measures that would be used to collect data were aesthetics, craftsmanship, technical performance and usability. All the data would allow Whirlpool to measure the potential product

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