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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Lean and Six-Sigma Kill Innovation - Go for LIST

The timing of the blogpost Six Sigma Kills;Lean kills absolutely is 10 years late in my opinion. In the year 2000, it was evident that world has taken a new course due to the age of connected that we have now. In the connected age, it is multiplicity that gets value.

Paraphrasing Thomas Barnett who wrote in The Pentagon's New Map, "the future was not about dealing with the biggest threat in the environment, but dealing with the environment of threats" I suggest, "future is not about the big OPPORTUNITY in the environment, but its about the environment of opportunities".

I think the six-sigma and lean initiatives as implemented by many organizations - completely miss this environment of opportunities. I must qualify, the way six sigma (nothing but a concoction of multiple patches on the fundamental statistical process control) and lean were designed and emerged - they serve fundamental purposes. However, the interpretation of these concepts and the way they have been mandated - has created a huge drag on the organization - nothing wrong with the principles and tools - it is just that people are applying wrong principles and tools to completely different situations and scenarios.

How to understand, explore and thrive in this environment of opportunities. We have been served greatly last two centuries (at least) by honing and developing our analytical and logical thinking dimensions. Lean thinking to my mind brought a concept of Value maximization (rather than waste reduction) in the way Toyota implemented it - hence we need to make and understand Value - end-to-end. Systems thinking - a holistic way large complex interactions were categorized and viewed with the sense of understanding them and may be designing them is also a dormant thinking dimension compared to analytical and logical. Finally, the inventive thinking - which is a departure from the existing methods, thoughts and solutions, in turn creating variations - has been subjugated completely till its revival in the form of design thinking and may be started with Herbert Simon's Sciences of the Artificial need to be incorporated in the 5 dimensions of Lean, Inventive and Systems thinking along with analytical and logical thinking.

We call this new 5 dimensions thinking framework the Lean Inventive Systems Thinking (LIST) and it combines the five key dimensions of thinking into a robust framework for innovation - end to end.

Lean Inventive Systems Thinking (LIST) – Crafitti’s Framework for Innovation
Lean thinking focuses on maximizing value of a system which also can be considered as a system which is least wasteful of resources. Systems Thinking expands the focus from immediate problem, system or scenario to a holistic view of the system and its positioning in the overall scheme of things. This helps us to think about the system in terms of its relationships, dependencies and complexities with respect to super-system and sub-system and with respect to past and future. Finally, Inventive Thinking and the associated methodologies help us to create or invent solutions or design alternative futures that may not be simple extrapolation of known knowledge in the industry. Inventive thinking brings best solutions from across industry using the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ). Thus Lean Inventive Systems Thinking (LIST) is a framework for innovation across the spectrum of innovation needs of an enterprise.

If you want to explore the environment of opportunities through LIST send me an email at

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