How to practice Six Sigma and Innovation?

Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach for process improvement. It delivers quality and offers a set of techniques to improve processes. But is it so rigorous that it stifles innovation? (Source : ProjectManagement.com – Six Sigma and Innovation)

Good question isn’t it?

The « wonderful » world of 6-sigma

6-Sigma is a very powerful tool that helps most of the organisation to perform better by allowing a performance enhancement. Going deep into the processes it definitely eradicate any waste of time or no value adding task. However is the 6-Sigma world so wonderful? (That’s an open question, leave a comment to answer)

The risks within 6-sigma

Of course 6-sigma is risky for innovation because everything seems to be so defined, so controlled that serendipity cannot happen. and serendipity is one root for innovation.

My practice of Innovation in a 6-sigma world

I leave in a 6-sigma world. More than a 6-sigma world actually. How can you innovate when processes, procedures and work instructions are so rigorous? Give the people a bit of fresh air. that’s all about it. define an innovation process that gives people the ability to act by themselves again and try new things. It is that simple. give them a bit of freedom back.

How to leverage 6-sigma to innovate.

I see one particular point where 6-sigma is of interest when speaking about innovation: bottom-up innovation or so-called « collective intelligence ». Those kind of initiative is really often backed by an « idea management system » which nothing but an idea or suggestion box. Frankly speaking this is not innovation the way I define it however it is some kind of, close to continuous improvement. As it is the most process driven tool of the innovation toolset, it is the area where 6-sigma helps the most. I have in my company a suggestion box that my innovation team is running. At the moment we are using 6-sigma tools to make our process more agile. Doing so, we are very focused on simplifying the process and making it clearer, softer, smother. That’s key. And 6-sigma has tools and is a tool for that and nothing else. One has to fight to avoid new or inadapted KPIs….

 

What is your opinion regarding 6-sigma and innovation? Leave a comment and let start to discuss.

 

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