From Joyce Wycoff:
One of my favorite innovation quotes is that innovation is never "either/or;" it’s always "both/and" so it’s always interesting to see opposite ideas come into play. This happened today as I read Amy Rowell’s thoughtful piece in Innovate Forum Daily (http://www.innovateforum.com/innovate/) about the negative effects of process-focus at 3M and then participated in the first Ignite Innovation! web seminar featuring Carol Pletcher, former chief innovation officer at Cargill. Amy discussed the effects of the Six Sigma program instituted by former 3M CEO James McNerney and a former 3Mer’s comment that the Post-It note would never have survived the new system. The point of the article is that process can stifle creativity and innovation. All too true.
However, Carol Pletcher in her presentation on innovation "bottle necks" states that companies have to look at where the bottlenecks are before developing a strategy for improving the flow of innovation. Using an example where revenue is going up but margins are going down, she explained that the bottleneck might be efficiency and cost controls. In that situation, the best innovation might be the implementation of a Six Sigma or lean manufacturing program.
So, the question isn’t process OR lack of process ... it’s about knowing what tools (or processes) to use when. As Maslow said, "A man with a hammer in his hand sees every problem as a nail." Unfortunately, it seems that McNerney tended to hit every issue with a Six Sigma-like approach rather than identifying the bottleneck that was impeding the flow of innovation and then developing an innovation approach that fits the specific situation.
The next Ignite Innovation! web seminar will be held July 17th at 1:00 pm Eastern. "Developing an Innovative View" with JoAnn and Jim Carland, professors and experts on entrepreneurship, and Susie deVille Schiffli, founder of InnovationCompass. Register at http://www.iirusa.com/convergence ... click on web seminars. (Registration for this web seminar will open in a few days.)