Case | HBS Case Collection | October 2001 (Revised November 2002)

Herman Miller(B): Creating Innovation Streams

by Sandra J. Sucher and Stacy McManus


In 1997, Mike Volkema faced the difficulty of attempting to revitalize a once dynamic organization. Volkema wondered how he could incorporate advances made within subsidiaries, such as Miller SQA's business model innovation, into the company as a whole while also reinvigorating the product focus that had made Herman Miller great. This case details Herman Miller's development of business model designs for each of its target market segments and the evolution of its famed cubicle office system to a new design for the twenty-first century. Herman Miller's traditional focus on product design has been supplemented by a new focus on targeted business models. Students can analyze the changes, including market expansion, reintegration of the fragmented value chain, and sharing capabilities throughout the organization that Volkema introduced to redirect the firm toward greater growth. The details of customer-oriented business model design are examined. Concludes with a series of issues for organizational processes and structures to enable a firm to manage innovation on multiple fronts. Includes color exhibits.

Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Product Design; Product Development; Product; Supply Chain Management; Business Model; Service Delivery; Customer Value and Value Chain; Manufacturing Industry; Consumer Products Industry;


Sucher, Sandra J., and Stacy McManus. "Herman Miller(B): Creating Innovation Streams." Harvard Business School Case 602-024, October 2001. (Revised November 2002.)