February 13, 2006

Does Six Sigma hold back innovation?

According to Mary Brenner, Management professor at the Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania), a total commitment to processes such as Six Sigma and quality management hinders the urge to innovate and explore new programs.

According to the paper titled "TQM, ISO 9000, Six Sigma: Do Process Management Programmes Discourage Innovation?" it is important to apply processes scrupulously and with discrimination, and avoid the percolation of their application in one area into other areas. It is advisable to apply processes where they are needed, and avoid them in business arenas that require innovation. Domain-B.com reports:

Professor Benner urges organisations to become "ambidextrous", managing process management and innovation simultaneously. Innovation can happen in both the research and development department, where companies generate new ideas or create new products, and in marketing, where companies search for new markets and new customers.

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