Nancy Tennan

Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President for Margin Realization, Whirlpool Corporation

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Nancy Tennant is the Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President for Margin Realization for Whirlpool Corporation, reporting to the Chairman and CEO. In addition to leading Whirlpool’s innovation arm, she is one of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners (theoretic practitioner) in transforming businesses and non-profit environments to achieve innovation from everyone and everywhere. Bloomburg Businessweek named Dr. Tennant one of the 25 Innovation Champions (IN25) in the world. She has been an adjunct faculty member of both the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business since 2003. In 2013 she co-founded the Certification Program for Innovation Mentors (CIMp) at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Tennant is the author of numerous articles and the co-author of two best-selling books on innovation: Unleashing Innovation: How Whirlpool Transformed an Industry (Tennant Snyder & Duarte; Jossey-Bass, Wiley, 2008), and Strategic Innovation: Embedding Innovation as a Core Competency in Your Organization (Tennant Snyder & Duarte; Jossey-Bass, 2003). She is presently working on a new book about innovation to simplify how to get started in innovation, with a publication goal of 2015. She is the co-author of the best selling Mastering Virtual Teams (Duarte & Snyder; Jossey-Bass, 2006, 3rd edition), ranked by Amazon as one of the 50 best selling team books of all time. She is a frequent public speaker on the topic of innovation and organization change to “C” level audiences around the world including United Arab Emirates, China, Brazil, Peru, India, Italy and the UK. Dr. Tennant holds a doctorate in organizational behavior from The George Washington University. She is the President of the Board for the First Tee of Benton Harbor, a non-profit organization that offers character development and life skills to youth-at-risk through golf.

On Innovation Navigation, Tennant spoke about her time at Whirlpool, and how she helped transform the industrial stalwart into one of the most innovative firms in the world today. It is a story of a remarkable corporate turnaround and an immense success. Among other specifics, she dove into problems of the management of innovation – how a whole firm has to be retooled to become an innovative powerhouse. The right people must be found and trained, and the “invisible systems” like financing have to be shaped to allow experimentation and innovation, and the firm must eventually define for itself what innovation actually is and consists of, so that innovation can become a solvable business problem.