Debate: Six Sigma vs. Innovation

I recently came across an article on business week about the debate over if six sigma stifles innovation.

The key takeaways for me from this article was
(1) Six Sigma is designed to inject more efficiency and productivity into a company's systems
(2) Disruptive innovation is going to be more entrepreneurial.
(3) smart companies separate the efforts at innovation from ongoing efforts at continuous improvement
(4) if managed properly, Six Sigma and innovation can go hand in hand

This got me thinking about my past experience, when I played an active role in facilitating product development and worked very closely with engineering. We had established processes for products which were in beta or production life cycle stage. Process adherence was essential as the tools and systems were shipped to customers when they reached this level of maturity.

By impeding new product introduction with rules did increase cycle times and caused endless frustration. So we came up with a solution, to allow engineering more freedom and flexibility in creating parts and bill of material structure with minimal requirements. We did ensure that certain checks and balances were in place so as to ensure proper procurement using revision control. Fast track changes with minimal approval cycles were also of great value.

In an organizational development activity, we studied profiles of leaders and managers. A similar issue was raised about leadership without management.

We should allow flexibility to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit with minimal guidelines!

"Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are my own only and in no way represent the views, positions or opinions - expressed or implied - of my employer (present and past) "
"Please post your comments - Swati Ranganathan"


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