Can Innovation and Lean Six Sigma Coincide?

Companies often introduce Lean Six Sigma because it is an effective way to cut costs and improve profitability. A very powerful tool indeed.

However, what if your company goals include innovation? Can a process-focused methodology such as Lean Six Sigma promote creativity and drive innovation?

Yes, it can.

In the 2010 post, “Leadership and Lean Six Sigma Opens Door to Innovation,” Steve Crom writes:

Lean Six Sigma improves the quality of management, working processes and applies resources in a targeted way that can dramatically increase the productive and creative potential across a business population. 

As Crom suggests, Lean Six Sigma is an opportunity to solve business problems by developing new working processes. To do this, companies need to:

  • Encourage employees to consider new approaches
  • Find ways to improve new ideas rather than throw them away
  • Establish “stretch goals” that require functions to work together
  • Prioritize resources and develop talent to work in cross-functional teams

Jay Arthur, author of Lean Six Sigma Demystified, states it well in his post, “Is Lean Six Sigma Killing Innovation”:

Simplify, streamline and optimize existing business operations using Lean Six Sigma to boost productivity and profitability. As Lean Six Sigma clears away the clutter, look for ways to redesign or re-engineer the business. 

Lean Six Sigma isn’t an innovation killer. It’s another tool in the business toolkit. It’s about creating the right business environment; one that embraces innovation under a continuous improvement umbrella.

For more ideas and further information about Lean Six Sigma or to learn how our LSS training program can enhance the innovation in your organization, contact us.

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