The History of Six Sigma

Table of Contents

History of the Six Sigma

Six Sigma refers to a management system. The evolution of the Six sigma as a quality management system has its roots in the Europe’s eighteenth century industrial era. The normal curve metric, a concept put forward by Gauss formed the basis of the idea. The idea of a process correction being made for a three sigma deviations from the mean was brought by Shewart Walter which further advanced the idea of Six Sigma. Quality management process was a term for the idea of Six Sigma by a Motorola Engineer in 1980. the idea was afterwards advanced through perfecting the idea in a Japanese style a trend set on in 1970 when they took over the Motorola’s television manufacturing unit. All the activities leading to production were paid attention by the Japanese management and were finally able to produce TV sets with just 5% defects against the set record under the Motorola.

The adjustments necessary at the point of manufacturing and the product’s performance in the market were linked in a research work by Mikel Harry together with Bill Smith. Performance, according to this report would be better if the number of non-conformities was lesser. The report led to the usage of ‘logical filters’ as a key to solve problems, and the four stage logical filters emerged to be the skeleton for the modern day Six Sigma with the help of the then CEO of Motorola Bob Galvin who led the system. Advances to the improvement of this system was made by the Motorola’s corporate policy committee who felt that they would achieve even quality which was even ten times better. Emphasis on customer satisfaction by Boveri Asea gave Six Sigma the final touch.

Why Six Sigma is being used today & the companies using it

Because customers judge the product according to what they see and what they get from the product, there is need for the emphasis of the processes that end up boosting customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is built on quality of product, free-from-defect products and standard goods according to the agreement. This requires that the manufacturer take keen in the part processes and procedures that make a whole in order to reduce variability in product from the set standard and defects in addition to achieving good quality. The Six Sigma is a management tool that seeks to achieve a near perfection improvement in performance, and may lead to achieving business leadership that is long lasting among other benefits. Applying the system leads to proper and smart management and improvement in achieving better solutions through data solutions. In addition, because quality is improved by the application of this system, it may end up achieving customer satisfaction. Reducing defects while controlling imperfections and variations would reduce wastes in the manufacturing process. The processing cycle and the time-to-market are also improved through the application of this system.

The cooperate ends up realizing financial benefits for its operations, customer retention, and a good or improved reputation because their product and services perform well in the market.

Included in the concepts of Six Sigma include measuring of defects by metrics of Defects per Million opportunities (DPMO). This seeks to help manufactured products to meet standards through the help of Critical to Delivery, Critical to Quality, and Critical to Price. It is necessary to identify the parameters which are important in a certain manufacturing before implementing the Six Sigma. The process seeks to reduce variability in the process whose presence increases the likelihood of a defect. This is one of its concepts. The other concept is to improve the present methodology to result in one that is free from defects through DMAIC.

  • D: Define opportunities
  • M: Measure performance
  • A: Analyze opportunity
  • I: Improve performance
  • C: Control performance

The companies that use Six Sigma include General Electric which was inspired by Edison Thomas and Motorola.

The Six Sigma and the Employer

By emphasizing on choosing employees who are Six Sigma certified means an employer can alleviate the company needs in meeting the required quality of products as expected by the suppliers. Because such a certification will mean knowledge of these systems of reducing variability in products and less defective production, the employer will be able to meet customer satisfaction because the workers understand the concept required in the system. In addition, because retraining the employee may be costly and an expense to the firm, getting a Six Sigma satisfaction employee means the employer will save on the training or retraining and the associated costs.

When a company gains the reputation because of achieving high quality products and services after the implementing of Six Sigma system, the employer may in turn realize highly turn-over sales and increased customer because customers will feel cared for. High quality products through lesser defects and variability through observance of the principles of Six Sigma means that the employer will achieve or continue enjoying high competitive position as compared to those that have not implemented the system.

Because observance of Six Sigma principles would result to quicker and improved processes, the employer will realize low cost of production because some processes may be repeated where there is non-observance of Six Sigma principles, in addition to increased wastes and wastage of time during manufacturing.

Because Six Sigma is about people’s excellence, the employer will reap the benefits associated with the use of people’s talents, improved communication, creativity and innovativeness, and collaboration and other attributes leading to sustained improvements.


Aveta Solutions. Six Sigma Core Concepts. 2007. Web.

Aveta Solutions. The History and Development of Six Sigma. 2007. Web.

Pande P., Robert N., & Roland C., The Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies are Honing Their Performance. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2000

Pivotal Resources. The Six Sigma Way: An Implementation Blueprint for Six Sigma. 2008. Web.

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