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6 Sigma or Innovation

6 Sigma or Innovation

| On 01, Jan 2010

Message: 1068
Posted by: 6sigmaorinnovation
Posted on: Thursday, 9th August 2007 discussion forum has a thread going on the relationship b/w innovation and 6 sigma.

Message: 1073
Posted by: Samuel C.
Posted on: Monday, 13th August 2007

I think one of the posters on this thread, Chad Taylor, made an interesting point –

Anytime a problem arises there is a chance to find smart and innovative ways to solve it. Having the innitiative to do that is something different. I believe Six Sigma is a tool by which initiative can be executed successfully.

However on a larger scale, innovation breakthroughs rarely happen from a problem or a need, but rather an idea of thinking or even dreaming if you will.


It seems to me that this is a cop-out. Due to NDA's I can't get into specifics, but I worked for a large corporation that used some tools that were probably derived from TRIZ, where breakthroughs were pushed through strategically.

Wasn't the Dyson vacuum created specifically from a problem that the inventor perceived? Or is a story like that the exception to the rule?

I'm interested in this audiences' perspective.

Message: 1074
Posted by: Mike Carnell
Posted on: Tuesday, 14th August 2007

Samuel C,

If people substitute control for Six Sigma then the innovation aspect disappears. If infact you choose to look for “breakthrough” then you must come up with something more than brainstorming the same old stuff you have done for years. Checkout Juran's “Managerial Breakthrough” from 1964 where he distinguishes the difference and characterizes breakthrough as dynamic change.

I do not believe you can deliver breakthrough results without some level of innovation. There are a large number of people who have confused the output of a SS project (little variation) with what it takes to deliver the solution of that project. The last thing most people want, who are responsible for delivering consistent product to a customer, is a line operator innovating while they make product. I would certainly have to question an operator who had a grinder in a mold because he wanted the freedom to innovate. If there was a SS team that was working through a mold improvement with data that would be a different story.

If you look at ASQ and how they characterize various questions in the BOK they have labeled them from Blooms Taxonomy. If you look at the definition of those steps you will find there are steps labeled synthesize and that is defined as “divergent thinking” or “creativity.” the step above synthesize in the taxonomy is evaluate where you have to do something with it. We find that a MBB that does not operate on the Evaluate level is generally not very successful.

Next time you go to a restaurant and order your favorite meal ask yourself how much innovation you want the chef doing as they prepare your meal. For some reason we have become enamored with peoples right to innovate and that is simple some California existentialist nonsense. it sounds good when people climb up on their soapbox but when they are a consumer and buy something with one expectation and they purchase something that doesn't deliver that try to pacify them by explaining you have an innovation program and this is simply an attemp to not stifle their creative drives. It won't work.

How much are you willing to allow the people who manufacture the braking systems on your car to innovate freely? If you want see something that kills innovation look at the process that automotive manufacturers use to approve engineering changes.

Just my opinion. 

Message: 1077
Posted by: Belinda
Posted on: Tuesday, 14th August 2007

Samuel, you bring up a great question.  In my study of innovation, I was taught to ask, “What is the problem you are trying to solve?”  I believe that there are many creative dreamers that have great ideas that may lead to invention.  Many times dreams and great ideas are just ideas. Innovation happens when we find a new way to solve a problem, answer a question, or use our resources. In my experience, there is no real innovation if the product or process does not make my life better in some way.  Isn't that problem solving?

Thanks for bringing up the discussion point.  I look forward to hearing what you and others think.

Message: 1083
Posted by: docaddykof
Posted on: Wednesday, 22nd August 2007

I don't believe you can tie the definition of innovation to a quality like make life better. For example,creative armament may be creative but typically doesn't make life better for the recipients. What is better for one may not be better for another or society in general.

Message: 1084
Posted by: Sean Travers
Posted on: Saturday, 25th August 2007

Agreed – What's good for one isn't necessarily good for another, but that doesn't necessarily make something innovative or not.

Consider the Internet. Overall, an innovation – a positive for the world. But if you consider one aspect of it, selling travel online. Now that it's so easy for planes, trains & automobiles to sell online, travel agencies have been made practically extinct for smaller trips that people used to depend upon agencies for.

Just because one group is thus “hurt” by the innovation, doesn't make it less of a good thing on a whole.