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Does Six Sigma kill innovation?

March 29, 2013


A recent post on ZD Net which talks about how Geoff Nicholson who’s considered the ‘father of the Post-it note’ at 3M feels that Six Sigma nullifies innovation, caught my interest. He also goes on to say that they had tried to implement Six Sigma at the Product Conceptualization stage.

Now one does not often associate Six Sigma with innovation, but rather with improving what is already in place, so it is easy to just brush this aside as an example of the wrong use of a good tool. However, what also struck me was that Six Sigma, by design looks at aligning any improvement project with the company’s current strategy, however, it does not necessarily question its (the existing strategy’s) merits, it merely progressively drills down into the root causes of a problem using statistical tools and looks at innovative ways of resolving it; i.e. doing things better rather than doing different things. Six Sigma in my view, looks at continuous improvement through problem solving akin to the gradual perfection of the Porsche 911, as opposed to the development of the all new electric Hybrid Justin Bieber happened to get on his 18th birthday – The Fisker Karma.

So does Six Sigma kill innovation? Certainly not; however, it probably would not feature on the top of the list of tools one would choose to get their creative juices flowing either…

From → Innovation

  1. Hey Chaps!
    It’s damn interesting to read all your articles. You are a person born with a talent for word craft and with an extensive skill set for writing. (I know it’s a long-term commitment and it didn’t happen overnight)

    I wish you all the very best and pls keep posting your articles everyday… 🙂


  2. Great approach to make a paradigm shift.

  3. Great approach to make a paradigm shift!

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