Defenders of Six Sigma at 3M claim that a more systematic new-product introduction process allows…

Defenders of
Six Sigma at 3M claim that a more systematic new-product introduction process
allows innovations to get to market faster. But Fry, the Post-it note inventor,
disagrees. In fact, he places the blame for 3M’s recent lack of innovative
sizzle squarely on Six Sigma’s application in 3M’s research labs. Innovation,
he says, is “a numbers game. You have to go through 5,000 to 6,000 raw ideas to
find one successful business.” Six Sigma would ask, why not eliminate all that
waste and just come up with the right idea the first time? That way of
thinking, says Fry, can have serious side
»

Defenders of
Six Sigma at 3M claim that a more systematic new-product introduction process
allows innovations to get to market faster. But Fry, the Post-it note inventor,
disagrees. In fact, he places the blame for 3M’s recent lack of innovative
sizzle squarely on Six Sigma’s application in 3M’s research labs. Innovation,
he says, is “a numbers game. You have to go through 5,000 to 6,000 raw ideas to
find one successful business.” Six Sigma would ask, why not eliminate all that
waste and just come up with the right idea the first time? That way of
thinking, says Fry, can have serious side effects. “What’s remarkable is how
fast a culture can be torn apart,” says Fry, who lives in Maplewood, Minnesota,
just a few minutes south of the corporate campus and pops into the office
regularly to help with colleagues’ projects. “[McNerney] didn’t kill it,
because he wasn’t here long enough. But if he had been here much longer, I think
he could have.”

»

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