Who developed Six Sigma?

Six Sigma was originally developed (in its modern form) by Bill Smith, who is an engineer who was working at Motorola at the time. The development process started in 1980 and continued over the course of about a decade. Mr. Smith is typically considered the co-founder, along with Dr. Mikel J Harry, though most of the information on this subject is about Smith.

About Bill Smith

Bill smith was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1929 and died in 1993 of a heart attack while in the Motorola cafeteria. He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1952 and went on to study at the University of Minnesota School of Management. He had a variety of jobs in quality assurance and engineering over the course of 35 years before he joined Motorola in 1997. His role was as a vice president and senior quality assurance manager for their Land Mobile Products Sector.

Development of Six Sigma

While at Motorola, Smith and other senior managers had to make quality improvements to a variety of products, most notably of which was the pager. It is said that Art Sundry, a senior manager, was in an organizational meeting when he shouted, “Our Quality Stinks.” This apparently got the ball rolling on quality improvement efforts at the company.

Bill Smith worked on developing what is now known as Six Sigma over the course of multiple years using ideas and support from engineers, senior management, Japanese quality control methods, and more. The changes that he helped to put in place allowed Motorola to make significant and long-lasting changes to the overall quality of Motorola products. Motorola received the Malcom Baldridge National Quality Award, which is presented by the President of the United States of America.

Widespread Adoption of Six Sigma

Six Sigma really began to expand outside of Motorola when Jack Welch implemented it as a major component of his business strategy at General Electric. This began in 1995, and Six Sigma continues to be used at GE to this day. Over time, thousands of additional companies began adopting Six Sigma due to its effectiveness in just about every environment.


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