BusinessWeek released an article this morning titled How Wall Street Can Catalyze Innovation. The opening lines liken the quality discipline to what the future holds for the innovation discipline:

“Just as quality became a serious business discipline 20-plus years ago, and is now embedded in most organizations through standard operating procedures, innovation must be developed as a discipline. And we believe that, over the next 20 years, it will be.”

Michael Cyger made a similar comparison at Real Innovation Commentary (part of CTQ Media’s recently launched Real Innovation).

The article then quotes responses that business managers typically give to questions about innovation. First we hear from the “Business-as-usual CEO,” then the “Toe-in-the-Water CEO” and finally the “Switched-on/Forward-thinking CEO.”

In response to the question, “How much money are you devoting to the effort (innovation) and where are the funds coming from?” The “Forward-thinking CEO” says:

“Our Six Sigma efforts don’t normally move the needle for us revenue-wise, but they sure deliver a lot to the bottom line. We’ve started with a chunky seven-figure budget and we expect to double it with the operational savings we create so we can fund worthy innovation projects at all levels in the company.”

What a great way to return Six Sigma savings back into growing the business: Fund innovation projects. It’s also a nice synergy between Six Sigma and Innovation. Perhaps the innovation minds in corporations will be less critical of Six Sigma if they could see the savings directly fund their projects… or perhaps they’ll still find a way to go against the grain… Those innovative minds, you never know what they’ll do (or think).

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