Research: Six Sigma increases efficiency, but might retard innovation

According to Wharton management professor Mary J. Benner, process management systems such as TQM and Six Sigma contribute to improving the efficiency of business enterprises, but it is important to have the suitable setting for these concepts to be applied. Otherwise, they can hinder innovation. Corante reports:

“In the appropriate setting, process management activities can help companies improve efficiency, but the risk is that you misapply these programs, in particular in areas where people are supposed to be innovative,” notes Benner. “Brand new technologies to produce products that don’t exist are difficult to measure. This kind of innovation may be crowded out when you focus too much on processes you can measure.”