Six Sigma at Motorola

By on May 2, 2012

Bill Smith, an engineer working at Motorola developed the tools and mathematics for Six Sigma and is credited for the term related to the method of in-grafting the problems of business with statistical toolset. He referred Six Sigma as a procedure for improving profitability and productivity. Six Sigma is a disciplined Statistical problem application of working out the tools to quantify and identify waste and denote improvement steps.

Motorola invented Six Sigma in 1986 and released it on January 1, 1987. Since then there has been a sense of satisfaction at Motorola that its initiative has helped not only Motorola but many other companies as well. Bob Galvin, who actually saw the potential of Six Sigma in its early development and was the first CEO to implement it, has said that even though Caterpillar, GE, Honeywell and Sears appear to be championing Six Sigma passionately, they always recognize Motorola’s contributions (Liker J, 2004; Breyfogle F W, 1999; Rath & Strong, 2000). There is a sense of pride in inventing Six Sigma on one hand and sense of dissatisfaction at being identified as a struggling company on the other. Experts at Motorola have been working on improving the methodology of Six Sigma. It has been perceived as overall business improvement method rather than just a measure of goodness or a methodology for defect reduction.

One of the major principles of Six Sigma is measuring what you value. Corporations have been initiating Six Sigma without a measure of their growth and profitability. Six Sigma provides the necessary tools and builds the momentum to achieve benefits fast and corporations realize those benefits.


  • Rath & Strong (2000), Rath & Strong’s Six Sigma Pocket Guide, Rath & Strong Inc., London
  • Liker J (2004), The Toyota Way: 14 Management principles from the world’s greatest manufacturer, Tata McGraw Hill, New York.
  • Breyfogle F W (1999), Implementing Six Sigma, John Wiley & Sons, New York.