Michael Slocum of Breakthrough Management Group (BMG) presented a workshop on Six Sigma and Innovation.  He began with a stream of quotes from innovation authors such as, Gary Hamel, David Kirkpatrick and Peter F. Drucker.  (He said Hamel was his favorite).

“There are no strategies for creating wealth in the long term that are not driven by innovation.” Gary Hamel

“The challenge â?¦is how to use innovation to reinvent the core of your company in a world where strategies die faster than they used to and where any company that’s not constantly renewing itself is simply becoming irrelevant.” Gary Hamel

“Innovation is business’s life blood.”  Gary Hamel

“In today’s economy, good ideas aren’t just good for business, they’re essential for growth.” David Kirkpatrick

“The best way to predict the future is to create it”. Peter F. Drucker.

After the introduction to innovation he reviewed innovation methodologies such as DFSS and TRIZ (Russian Acronym for Theory of Inventive Problem Solving).

The highlight of the presentation was an introduction to the Total Performance Improvement Model, a methodology that leverages a combination of improvement tools to manage strategic planning, process management, Lean principles, process improvement, design and R&D. The TPI model is much more than the marriage of Lean and Six Sigma. It is a family reunion of management philosophies and business improvement techniques all under one grandfather umbrella.

He capped off the workshop teaching the concept of the ‘ambidextrous organization’. Introduced in the April 2004 Harvard Business Review, the ambidextrous organization has two sets of eyes, like the Roman God Janus, one set focusing on the past and the present, and one set focusing on the future. He cited an example of a company that has done exactly this. Sterno, part of Blyth Inc., proactively reinvented its namesake product before the competition did. Now they control market entry, product cannibalization, and price. Not their competitors. Companies today must be courageous and execute this forward and innovative thinking to survive.

One thing Michael Slocum said that remained with me, “Innovation transcends Six Sigma.”  I think most people will agree Six Sigma is not enough to save an organization from failure. But I think it is also true that innovation is not enough.  Companies need to manage many factors that play significant roles in the success of the business. The Total Performance Improvement Model just might be an answer for the company that wants to do it all.

About the Author