Marketing Idea No. 22 – Why six sigma and creativity does not necessarily walk hand in hand

A very interesting article came in Time, quoting whats happening in 3M – the very company that is synonimous with innovation.

What happened was when James McNarney was brought from GE in 3M, he brought with him 6 sigma. As a result, with a thorugh workout of the processes, everyone in 3M vecame a six sigma “Black Belt” and a very process oriented, efficient company. But to some 3M has lost its soul, which is based on innovation.

This provides a very interesting debate – which is the modern modus operandi for global organizations – innovation and design or process and efficiency. Both proved to be successful on their own, but they proved beyond doubt that they cant co-exist.

Where would you put your bet on? Although we can expect a lot of debate on this subject in near future, one thing can be said safely – Six Sigma and process re-engineering is not the cure-all that it is used to in this new innovation and design obsessed world. 

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2 Comments

  1. I agree with you Shahriar that this is debatable topic. However we need to note that there are common goals between six sigma and innovation. Both strive to bring out value proposition and to make it visible to the end user – assuming they are done properly.

  2. The wrong use of six sigma concept is to be blamed here. Six sigma doesnt necessarily mean everything has to be at the six sigma level. I just read the 3M story. & i am sure you can rightly guess. the problem had nothin to do with six sigma. Dont know about the future but at present it is simly not possible to ensure a Six sigma creative advertisement :-).

    Same goes with innovation. Incidentally, there is a ssix sigma method which works with product development: DFSS: Design for Six Sigma. However it also focuses on the data part and making the product conform with the customer need. It has nothin to do with creative communication.

    The summary is: Six sigma cannot and is not looking for providing creativity. It is more about providing the best possible creatvie solution (which is WIN-WIN for both company and customer) among different alternatively with optimam usage of resources and time.

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