BW 6/11/07 The debate: Six Sigma vs. Innovation
The next few postings will deal with the critically important topic of creating the right corporate climate for innovation. Specifically, when to use tools like 6 Sigma and when not to when driving growth through innovation. I had many battle scars when I first introduced our Market Driven Growth (MDG) process at DuPont that was deep in the 6 Sigma culture; the 6 sigma black belts wanted to do everything with their methodologies.
The following visual really does it for me. We discuss this in our executive ed class at Kellogg and it is a critical component of implementing the MDG process at our clients.
The three distinct phases of an initiative must be recognized and managed differentially – the “ambidextrous” company. The work at the early stages of a new initiative is driving for strategic clarity. The metric is knowledge and the tool is Options Management. The next phase, the zone of highest business risk-- the combination of uncertainty and spend rate – is where you selected a single path and you must scale it in an environment of relatively high uncertainty (represented by the rapids). The metric is revenue growth and the tool is Discovery Driven Planning. The final stage – optimization – is the region of low uncertainty but execution is critical. The metric is earnings growth and the tool is 6 Sigma. Finally, note the different types of personal needed at each phase. It is critically important to match the DNA of individuals with the task.