Merging Lean Six Sigma with Innovation
Culture of Innovation at Best Buy
Best Buy Co. Inc., based in Richfield, Minnesota, was a specialty retailer of consumer electronics and appliances, with 19% US market share and international operations in Mexico, Canada, China, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Including its subsidiaries, the company operated more than 4,000 retail stores and automated shops in airports and malls. Sales for fiscal year 2010 hit nearly $50 billion with net income of more than $1.3 billion (Table 1).
Table 1: Selected Financials
Revenues ($ millions)
Net Earnings ($ millions)
Assets ($ millions)
Number of Stores
Source: Best Buy, FY11 10-K Report. Richfield, MN: Best Buy, 2010. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/764478/000104746911004045/a2203505z10 -k.htm, accessed 2011.
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Best Buy:Merging Lean Six Sigma with Innovation
Best Buy‟s governing philosophy was to foster a culture of innovation that allowed employees to rethink how they performed jobs, to redesign processes, and to launch business initiatives. The entrepreneurial approach embraced experimentation and celebrated the learning that both success and failure provided. Several elements of the leadership and organizational strategy helped to foster and imbed innovation in the DNA of the organization. Middle-out: Senior leadership viewed its primary role as creating and cultivating a corporate culture in which management (the middle) was given substantial latitude to experiment with innovative ventures and activities and “prove out” new concepts. The “C” Suite acted as a “permission filter,” supporting projects that merited implementation.
Broad engagement: Related to the middle-out philosophy was the foundational tenet that innovation was not the province of a defined group. The corporate mantra was: “everyone is responsible for innovation.”
Strengths-based organization: To leverage individual and group performance Best Buy identified and emphasized individuals‟ strengths, and encouraged people to emphasize their strengths in setting stretch performance goals. Employees with complementary strengths were often put together to form synergistic project teams – combining, for example, an “idea generator” with a “pragmatic doer” and a “relationship expert.” Best Buy used tools to conduct individual assessments (Gallup) and to discern how a person was wired for team dynamics (BELBIN). The strengths-based approach was a...