History of Six Sigma

The concept of Six Sigma was developed in 1987 by Motorola. Six Sigma is basically a packaging of a lot of quality tools. These quality tools were developed much before 1987. One of the tools which form the basis of Six Sigma is the Control Chart. Control Charts were created way back in 1924 by quality guru Walter Shewhart.

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Bill Smith of Motorola is considered to be the "Father of Six Sigma." He approached Motorola's CEO at that time, Bob Galvin and proposed to reduce defects by reducing variation in the processes.  In 1987, based on the recommendations of Bill Smith along with Mikel Harry of Motorola launched "The Six Sigma Quality Program."

Bill Smith - The father of Six Sigma

Six Sigma helped Motorola to be the first company to receive the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in the year 1988, just a year after initiating the Six Sigma concept.

Looking at the success of Six Sigma at Motorola number of other companies, such as General Electric, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Honeywell, Whirlpool, adopted Six Sigma. These are some of the early adopters. Looking at the success of these, a lot of other companies too adopted Six Sigma to improve their processes, reduce their defects level, and to make their customers satisfied.

The credit of inventing Six Sigma goes to Motorola, but General Electric under Jack Welch has made it famous. In General Electric, employee promotions were depending on whether the employee had a specific Six Sigma belt or not.


1777 – 1855Carl Frederick Gauss introduced the concept of the Normal curve
1986Bill Smith in Motorola formulated six Sigma.
1988Motorola becomes the first company to win the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award.
1993Allied Signal adopted Six Sigma ( Larry Bossidy was the CEO of Allied Signal at that time.)
1995General Electric (GE) launched the Six Sigma initiative. (Jack Welch was the CEO of General Electric at that time.)
1998Honeywell adopted Six Sigma
2000Ford adopted Six Sigma

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