Did any of you read the article by Don Peppers on Six Sigma? Peppers did a great job bringing to light the lack of innovation tools in the Six Sigma process. The Six Sigma process was designed to plan, predict, document, adjust, and improve the current work process. For this purpose, Six Sigma is a great tool and meets all of the companies objectives. If the company is looking to be more innovative, then the company should be looking for a tool that promotes innovation like Lateral Thinking or any other innovation tool. I think that comparing Six Sigma process improvement to Innovation is like comparing “oranges and apples.” They both may be fruits but their taste, look, and purpose are completely different.
If your company is looking to implement the Six Sigma process, I would recommend that the objectives be clearly identified and communicated company-wide so that the company does not try to accomplish innovation objectives with a process improvement tool. Here’s a thought, may be 3M was not looking for innovation in Six Sigma but process improvement?