A must read is Business Week from June 11, 2007. It's all about the adverse impact of Six Sigma on the renowned innovative culture at 3M. In a nutshell, when measurement and metrics are paramount, they begin to drive behavior focused not on innovation, but that which best optimizes what is being measured. It is an example of "the scientific effect" gone Frankenstein.
Find a copy and read it. Some gems:
"[4 1/2 years after GE & Six Sigma trained James McNerney departs] abruptly ... his successors face the challenging question: whether the relentless emphasis on efficiency had made 3M a less creative company."
"When these types of initiatives become ingrained in a company's culture, as they did at 3M, creativity can easily get squelched. After all, a breakthrough innovation is something that challenges existing procedures and norms."
"Invention is by its very nature a disorderly process." [says current CEO George Buckley] who has dialed back many of [his predecessor's initiatives]. "You can't put a Six Sigma process into that area and say, well, I'm getting behind on invention, so I'm going to schedule myself for three good ideas on Wednesday and two on Friday. That's NOT how creativity works."
" ... Once bloated U.S. manufacturers have shaped up and become profitable global competitors ... [so now] the onus shifts to growth and innovation, especially in today's idea-based, design-obsessed economy. While process excellence demands precision, consistency, and repetition, innovation calls for variation, failure, and serendipity."
"Six Sigma is plainly a euphemism for cost cutting."
Of Bob Nardelli of Home Depot, "Facts are friendly was a favorite mantra of his ... The bottom line of Nardelli's tenure: Profitability soared, but worker morale drooped, as so did consumer sentiment. Home Depot dropped from first to worst."
"The term [Six Sigma] gives me an allergic reaction."
Art Fry -- developer of Post-It Notes: " Innovation is a numbers game . You have to go through 5,000-6,000 raw ideas to find one successful business." -- "Six Sigma would ask -- why not eliminate all that waste and just come up with the right idea the first time?" [I think some consultants like 'DH' might like this attitude -- or pander to this C-Level bias to sell his pricey ideation services, but I think this sucks.]
Okay, I'm finished. Please read the article and share it with your clients, colleagues and bosses. It's a must.
The Innovise Guys