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Some of the quality experts are also of the opinion that Six sigma hardly has any role to play in this era of invention and innovation, while others feel that Six Sigma works very much in synchronization with innovation and hence can be a tool to effectively execute innovative techniques.“To be successful, a company has to know how to do both – innovate and execute,” says Mike Nichols, prominent quality analyst and president of American Society for Quality.
“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 which produce products that don’t exist are difficult to measure.
In addition, if all the companies within an industry are undertaking similar Six Sigma-type improvements, it can be hard to gain any upside advantage from Six Sigma, she says.
Commenting on the limitations of Six Sigma and its applications, Benner says that while ground breaking innovation is not possible with 6S, she says that incremental innovation can be achieved.
The rigorous application of hypothesis, experimentation, and testing is at the core of the innovation process,” he says.
improvement program that focuses on driving value, rather than dogmatic adherence to a methodology, will be successful.In an interview to Business Week, Tom Davenport, management professor Babson College feels that the days of the 6S are over.He says that Six Sigma was developed as a systematic way to improve quality, but the reason it caught fire was its effectiveness in cutting costs and improving profitability.“Innovation is critical in many industries – especially industries that change rapidly, so a lack of innovation triggered by a Six Sigma initiative may limit a company’s ability to keep up with change, which in turn can have severe consequences for performance and even survival,” says Benner.She says that this can happen for several reasons – the close focus on statistical measurement and a need for evidence of continuous improvement tends to create a focus on activities that can be measured easily According to Benner, it is easier to measure improvement in the ongoing current activities – selling today’s products to today’s customers – than it is to measure brand new activities.“It is difficult to measure the potential sales in the future of new technologies that don’t yet exist, products that have not yet been developed, for customers you don’t yet know.So the shift in attention to measurable improvements can dampen innovation into new areas,” says Benner.But I think it always has to be leavened a bit with a focus on innovation and [customer relationships].” Brushing aside criticism that 6S inhibits rather than encourages innovation, Forrest Breyfogle, CEO Smarter Solutions, says: “this could be the case in an organization’s Lean Six Sigma deployment, where focus is given to the search for projects and their completion.In these organizations, primary focus can be for black-belt or green-belt certification upon project completion.“There are many examples of successful Six Sigma applications.However, too often companies push the Six Sigma methodology over impact.