Six Sigma’s Origin and Evolution

Six sigma helps in analyzing and providing the best tools for data analytics required for managing quality in a project. Read on to learn more about the evolution of the six-sigma concept!

Large and small businesses are transforming as they fight for a larger share in a highly competitive market, supported by new technological tools required to maintain the project.

By lowering the possibility of error, the Six Sigma collection of managing necessary strategies is intended to increase the efficiency of the company processes. It is an information strategy that employs various practices for defect eradication and revenue growth.

Understanding the Concept of Six Sigma

The procedure of Six Sigma gives corporations the techniques the management needs to manage their company operations more effectively. Enhancing performance as well as reducing activity variance makes it feasible to lower action prices, boost workforce confidence, and raise the chances of getting better output, assisting in increasing the efficacy of the business.

Six Sigma’s History and Origin

The normal curve was first proposed by Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855), who also established the foundations of Six Sigma as a quantitative principle. A Motorola employee named Bill Smith is credited to bring the phrase "Six Sigma" even though several measurement standards (like zero defects, etc.) appeared again. (Incidentally, the company federally entered Six Sigma as its trademark).

When Shewhart Walter demonstrated a process that needs to be corrected while it deviates by 3 sigma first from the mean in the 1920s, six sigma emerged as a measurement benchmark for differentiated products.

Engineers at Motorola felt the typical quality stages flaws in several prospects that didn't provide the required depth in the beginning and mid-1980s under Chairman Bob Galvin's leadership. They preferred to count the number of flaws for every million possibilities.

Motorola then made the revolutionary principle of six sigma the related procedure and also the essential culture shift. The company demonstrated over $10+ Billion in overall profits resulting from Six Sigma drives, demonstrating how the Six Sigma process’ benefited Motorola to accomplish significant advantages in their organization.

Leaders like Jack Welch of the General Electric company and Larry Bossidy of Honeywell company (earlier Allied Signal) too understood and stated six sigma’s importance.

Since then, countless organizations worldwide have embraced the concept as a way of conducting business. It's a direct effect of many American leaders publicly touting Six Sigma's advantages.

In his publication regarding Six Sigma, Geoff Tennant states: "Six Sigma is several features, and it might be simpler to enumerate the tasks that performance is not that simple. Six Sigma can sometimes be viewed as a vision, a methodology, a philosophy, a metric, and more.”

As time passed, the theory of Six Sigma changed. It's not just another quality or value management system such as ISO or TQM. It is a proper method of conducting activities that eventually enhances profitability.

Evolution of Six Sigma

Although the science of statistics itself based on which a number of Six Sigma's tools exist for much longer, the set of ideas that make up Six Sigma have their roots in the drive for quality in large-scale production, which began in the late 18th century.

The Normal Distribution curve, popularly known as the "Bell Curve," developed by a German mathematician named Friedrich Gauss, was applied in Six Sigma. It is the foundation of statistical and analytical theory. Products and procedures are evaluated and analyzed in the framework of statistical quality control to identify deviation from recommended guidelines, and the range of the allocation denotes variability.

The Greek letter (“σ”) sigma, which stands for multiples within a single deviation, designates the distance between methods pointing at the mean by which the exceptions on a distribution are located.

The Industrial Revolution

Inspection and project management quality costs were high in the pre-industrial era. The only way to receive a product with high-quality workmanship was to pay a high fee to have it done. On the other hand, there was no need for supervision, which made the whole procedure less tiresome.

With the Industrial Revolution, everything changed. Equipment made it possible to make items more quickly and in large quantities than before. Around this time, Honoré le Blanc introduced the concept of interchangeable parts, which was later used by legendary American cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney.

When the French government awarded Eli a contract to build 10,000 muskets, he created designs for standardized musket parts to enable years of consistent production using a single template, beginning in the era of mass production.

The armed services complex and defense establishments throughout America and Europe accepted Whitney's application, known as the Consistency System. The fact that an effective resource allocation was made once again to improve production and its quality makes this breakthrough noteworthy.

Shewhart, Ford, and Others

Because there were so many parts, it was impossible to manually measure against go and thus no gauges, which was the standard procedure. Cost-effective bulk manufacturing has become reality with the advent of the assembly process and Ford's application of it within the automobile sector. As a result, there was a greater requirement than ever for measuring parts against predetermined standards.

As a result, the responsibility for ensuring the final products fell within the allocated margins for values and quality is shifted to measure the solidity of the procedure used to generate interchangeable components.

The Second World War as well as Japan’s Progress

The Japanese appealed to the allied powers led by MacArthur for guidance as they confronted the Herculean challenge of rebuilding a country in ruins following the Second World War.

Japanese industries and corporate leaders believed the Allies' enormous victory was partly attributable to the developed manufacturing capacity in the West, which they believed was held by reliable value control systems.


The Six Sigma methodology involves using quantitative models rather than conjecture to enhance corporate processes. Controlling variance and comprehending the complexities of processes enhance them. As a result, business activities and operations become dependable as well as successful.

Six Sigma is targeted toward project activities with demonstrable business outcomes and is data-driven; it is more than just training. This tried-and-true method has been used in a variety of industries to cut costs on both the hard and soft side while raising customer satisfaction.

Updated on: 20-Jan-2023


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