Tag: breakthrough ideas

Ralf HallerRalf Haller June 27, 2010

Why CQI, TQM, Six Sigma etc. cannot create breakthrough new ideas

This last week I received an email response from a large Swiss company’s head of administration and secretary of the CEO saying:

Innovationsideen werden bei xyz in klar definierten Prozessen aufgenommen, beurteilt und je nach Einschätzung in Projekten weiter verfolgt. Die Projekte werden in IT-Systemen dokumentiert und kontrolliert. (Innovation ideas at xyz company will be entered into clearly defined processes, evaluated and depending on the overall judgement followed up in projects. The projects will be documented and controlled with IT.)

This sounds reasonable at first sight but is actually a very common attitude to believe that a well oiled process and quality control system would be enough to generate ideas and innovations in an enterprise. But as e.g. Nicolas Negroponte said: ” Incrementalism is innovation’s worst enemy.”

The reason is that all these process methodologies are on one hand the most useful form of reproductive thinking in that it focuses on continually monitoring and refining processes, products and procedures but also the most dangerous in that it provides the illusion of innovation under the guise of incremental change. All these methodologies may be good for producing zero defects, but they will never produce breakthrough change. For that it requires productive thinking.