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The Gradual Evolution Of Six Sigma

May 16, 2008
In the following article, you will come to know exactly how Six Sigma evolved as a quality management concept. You will also become aware of people who contributed to the development of the Six Sigma and how their contributions have now made Six Sigma one of the most creditable quality management systems in the world.

The Early Beginnings

Most people believe that Six Sigma was devised by Motorola Company and was used for the first time in the late seventies. No doubt this is true, but giving the entire credit to Motorola will not be the right thing to do - because what is also true is that the roots of present day Six Sigma can be traced back to eighteenth century when industrial revolution was changing the contours of the European subcontinent.

The first contribution came from Carl Frederick Gauss, who gave a conceptual presentation of Six Sigma by using a normal curve metric. Later on, contributions were also made by Walter Shewhart, who showed the applicability of process corrections based on three sigma deviations from the mean.

The Japanese Contribution

The popular Japanese belief that nothing is perfect'; that there is only "better" or "worse", is quite similar to the basic Six Sigma objective (i.e. aim for continuous quality improvements). It proves the fact that Japanese people contributed a lot to the evolution of Six Sigma.

It happened in the seventies when a Japanese management was called in to improve the operations of a TV manufacturing unit controlled by Motorola. The Japanese showed their excellent workmanship and used innovative tools and techniques, which were later banded together to create the Six Sigma quality improvement methodology.

Motorola's Contribution

Any study related to the evolution of Six Sigma will be incomplete without mentioning names like Bill Smith and Mikel Harry as well as their contributions towards the development of Six Sigma. Their contribution came in the form of a research project that proved that the performance of a product or service was linked directly to the adjustments effected in the associated business processes.

The report was no less than a revolution because it clearly indicated that product performance in the marketplace could be improved just by decreasing the total number of non-conformities at each stage of production. It led to the development of "logical filters", which were referred to as Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control by the then CEO of Motorola, named Bob Galvin. These filters together represent the present day Six Sigma methodologies, namely the DMAIC, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Implement, and Control, and DMADV, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Design and Verify.

The evolution of Six Sigma has not stopped. In fact, the evolutionary pace of Six Sigma has increased dramatically over the years, mainly due to the growing need to accommodate newer business processes and technological advancements and breakthroughs. Since, Six Sigma's evolution has helped it to survive the long years, it would not be wrong to assume that it would continue doing the same in the years to come as well.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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