Friday, October 3, 2008

Do quality practices block innovation?

It is often commented that quality practices and systems actually stifle creativity and innovation.Do they? Last week on our QualityNet network N K Sharan asked if Company wide Innovation can't be driven through current Quality or Business excellence practices (They are more biased towards continuous improvement.)

Thought provoking I must say. Here is how answered this question.

Like in most cases it all depends on how we define quality, excellence and 'driven'. Without getting into hair-splitting I tend to agree with what you say. Innovation is driven in most cases by stretch goals, fear of extinction, or individual spirit. Once the spark is lit it can be driven company wide. It would still remain a bit dependent on individual drive.

I believe if we need our company to be innovative we need to hire people who are innovative and reward innovation appropriately. I don't think people can be made innovative by attending a workshop or training. They can try but they won't be as good as the ones who get in naturally. It is how we were made and there is no good in fighting it.

So in summary, yes, company wide innovation can't be driven through quality or business excellence practices (as we understand them today).

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