Six-Sigma Not so Valueless Afterall!

Earlier this week my wife (who works with us sometimes) was at the Boston Knowledge Management Forum, where one of the trendy things to talk about was how six-sigma is now an dated old tool, useful in the manufacturing environment where systems are predictable, but not useful for complex systems…like managing a modern corporation. 


Part of what we are seeing above is, of course, the need for academics to look down their nose at anything not on the horizon, or not of their own invention.  And part of the above is the stating of the obvious as if it was a revelation from on high.  (We often state the obvious to clients too, not as a revelation though, but rather as a reminder that basics count.)

Or is it so obvious?  Take a look at the latest Business Week (10/8/07), page 88.  The article there describes how six-sigma is used to foster innovation at some leading companies.  More specifically, it shows how it is used to implement innovative ideas and roll them out company-wide.

The truth is that six-sigma is a tool.  It applies to any repetitive activity (that would be a process.)  It applies at the meta-level to many strings of non-repetitive activities (a meta-process.)  It applies to a greater or lesser degree. And it most certainly applies to many marketing and sales processes.

Ron White likes to say “You can’t cure stupid”, which is true  Our version of that is much more positive, though: “You still need management smarts.”

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