How to Source Innovation with Six Sigma

When your organization decides to implement Six Sigma methodology, there are several routes you can follow. For many, the goal is to simply deter production defects. A common, yet extremely valuable benefit from Six Sigma. Others may want to improve the efficiency of particular business processes. This allows organizations to go deep into the nuts and bolts of a process and find ways to improve even the most minor parts. However, one commonly overlooked utilization of Six Sigma methods is sourcing innovation. Of all the successful companies in the world that have used Six Sigma, their mission was simple. Constant improvement was their overall aspiration. When your corporate culture to constantly seek ways to be better, greater, stronger, innovation is a likely byproduct. In this article, we will show you how to use Six Sigma to source innovation for your organization.

What is Innovation?

At its most simplistic definition, innovation is the act of creating new methods, ideas, or inventions. When you think ‘innovation’, you may also hear ‘futuristic’. Think iconic creations, such as the smartphone, vaccinations, or even the assembly line. At one point, all these creations were pure innovations that individuals and organizations multiplied onto a larger scale. Yet, sometimes, having the next best idea isn’t the only thing you need.

Innovation also looks to acquiring assets. These assets may be people, equipment, funding, or other resources that promote your innovation. However, even then, you may be out of luck. Sometimes, the most basic need of innovation is to simply see it. For an example, an employer may hire an employee who has the perfect solution to regain market share value but never gives the employee the chance to express it. That’s where Six Sigma comes in.

How Six Sigma Comes into Play

An innovation is only good if you can source it. Indirectly, Six Sigma professionals learn this skill, even as early as their first training course. As an overall goal to achieve product efficiency, decrease waste, and seek constant improvement, Six Sigma has always sought after innovation. Lean Six Sigma, one of its founding methodologies, focuses on solving business problems through new, innovative approaches. Employees work under the guidance of managers to improve business processes. This may be conducting Root Cause Analysis, Value Stream Mapping, of implementing the Kaizen method.

However, employees can only begin sourcing innovations with the help of strong leaders. After achieving Six Sigma Black Belt, you can lead projects first hand. This includes instructing lower level employees and Six Sigma professionals, such as Green and Yellow Belts. As an effective leader, you understand where employees must be at all times to complete the necessary tasks. Likewise, you communicate daily with upper management, finding ways to achieve their requirements. Sometimes, the simplest tasks can lead to the greatest innovations.

What sets apart great Six Sigma professionals from the best is the ability to find and source innovation. With your training and experience, finding new forms of innovation becomes second nature.

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