A New Look at Entrepreneurship: Where Six Sigma Aligns Personality with Process

This summer’s online assessment tool for identifying your entrepreneurial personality type, offered on the Harvard Business Review website by author Linda Rottenberg, demonstrates that the trend toward dissecting the entrepreneurial mindset still hasn’t slowed down. 

Rottenberg’s quiz, drawn from themes in her popular 2014 book, Crazy is a Compliment, is among many that explore what it is about entrepreneurs and their ways, that makes them so different from their corporate-cubicle counterparts.

Everyone from Forbes to Business Insider wants to take a serious look at what makes the entrepreneur tick.While that’s important to understand, and helpful for entrepreneurs to know, as they cultivate both their businesses and their leadership qualities, knowing what makes bold dreams actually work may be better than understanding what makes an ESTP tick.

Altruistic stars and ambitious transformers alike can benefit from a dose of structure and method that equips them for creativity in a framework.

Related Article: 14 Best Audiobooks for Busy Entrepreneurs

Enter: Six Sigma

Six Sigma and similar process models may seem like a bad fit for the world’s innovators until we recall that Six Sigma is itself an innovation, and the disruptive, data-driven production processes that began at Motorola decades ago are applied in virtually every discipline now. 

The real breakthrough for many up-and-coming businesses, whether focused on artisanal cheese or app development, may be to connect the positive traits of entrepreneurs – their confidence and commitment – with the structure of success.

Take the entrepreneurial lean towards breadth as an example. One European study, published in 2013, found that entrepreneurs do, indeed, have a jack-of-all-trades mindset first identified years ago at Stanford University.

The quality of competence in different skill sets and curiosity in acquiring more extends to social capital as well, because the way entrepreneurs connect isn’t within insular groups. 

The problems can arise when entrepreneurs lack a deep understanding or fail to put it all together, and that’s exactly where Six Sigma training can help them learn to better assess the entire cycle of their operation.

Related Article: The Top 10 Qualities That Define An Entrepreneur

The Assessment of Entrepreneurial Confidence

In other scenarios, it’s almost a cliché that entrepreneurs are big risk-taking extroverts who don’t care if you like them and do, in fact, consider crazy to be a compliment. First of all, that’s not true of all startup and small business leaders who build their success on less-splashy milestones and less-visible profiles. 

One almost feels some empathy for entrepreneurs who feel driven to “look like one,” and meet those expectations in professional and personal life, too, of “what kind of person” they are supposed to be.

But there is a lot of generalized truth in the assessment of entrepreneurial confidence, let’s be honest, it takes some determination and maybe a little crazy, too, to chart a bold new course while leaving the security and acceptance of the familiar, not to mention in many cases, the paycheck behind. 

The real trouble with the risk-taking is when it’s impulsive and poorly calculated, which is by no means the same thing as agility or spontaneity or inspiration or genius. The structure of the method and the capacity for a deliberative process that Six Sigma instills in its practitioners rests on being informed and intentional.

Related Article: Paved In Gold: How to Navigate the Path to Entrepreneurship

When those diamonds want to start disruptive ventures, they’re likely to be more successful if they’re “intelligently innovative.” The cycles of the Six Sigma process may sound old-fashioned or irrelevant, but the fact is that many entrepreneurs are doing them more intuitively already. They’re defining a bold vision, or a solution or niche, or a creative opportunity by feel that’s only improved by validating it with some data. 

That’s obviously true when it comes to evaluating costs and creating budgets, ambitious social transformers have to pay the bills, too, but Six Sigma’s emphasis on definition can be key to communication. You want that bold vision to attract investors, employees, community stakeholders and countless others who do work in corporate cubicles.

Because allies support your success, caring enough to define your concept and your business plan in the shared language that Six Sigma principles offer isn’t an unfortunate compromise or eat-your-vegetables concession. It’s the catalyst for the change you seek.

On the other hand, the metrics and analysis process may also provide the constraints you need. It’s not always the case, and in the climate of immediacy that is today’s mobile marketplace, it’s nearly a lost art.

But even the most adventurous and obstinate of entrepreneurs knows there may be reasons rooted in wisdom to move more slowly, for the do-over of service models that clearly need better consistency, or for design improvements on the basis of feedback that wasn’t what you hoped to hear. The discipline of Six Sigma helps entrepreneurs to foster that same discipline in themselves, and that’s real bold change.


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