The Evolution of Six Sigma: From Quality Control to Business Strategy


The operations of an organization may be made more effective and of higher quality using the well-known corporate leadership approach known as Six Sigma. Although it originated in manufacturing, it has since developed and spread over a number of industries.

The methodologies of Six Sigma have changed over the course of the last few decades as businesses have tailored them to meet their own objectives. This method has advantages including simple process flow chart paperwork, a decrease in the number of faulty goods, improved opportunities for ongoing enhancement, raising staff morale, and higher efficiency across the board.

This article explores Six Sigma's development from a straightforward concept to a few of the most successful and widely used quality management methods.

Key stages and contributions

  • The history of Six Sigma − Six Sigma's historical context may be found in Motorola's introduction of the statistical tool in the early 1980s as a means of evaluating and enhancing the standard of its manufacturing procedures. The term "Six Sigma" relates to the analytical idea of quantifying and minimizing errors to a degree of excellence comparable to 3.6 errors per million chances. Thanks to Motorola's achievement, the technique attracted a lot of interest, and numerous other businesses eventually adopted it.

  • Growth & Expansion − Growth and Establishment: GE was essential to the creation of Six Sigma throughout the period of the 1990s. In order to accomplish superior operations and raise ratings with clients, GE adopted Six Sigma as an important approach under the direction of Jack Welch. Six Sigma approaches are widely used by GE, and the company has achieved extraordinary financial outcomes.

  • DMAIC (Defining, Measuring, Analyzing, Improving, and Controlling) − The DMAIC framework has made a substantial contribution to Six Sigma's progress. DMAIC, a systematic approach to problem-solving created by GE, helps to find and remove flaws, lessen variability, and enhance the process's general effectiveness. Five steps make up the DMAIC method: define the issue, evaluate the process's efficacy, analyze the underlying causes, enhance the method, and monitor the new procedure in order to maintain the benefits.

  • Merging with Lean Manufacturing − As Six Sigma developed, it was combined with the ideas of Lean Manufacturing to become Lean Six Sigma. Six Sigma emphasizes lowering faults and raising excellence, whereas lean ideas concentrate on getting rid of inefficiencies and simplifying operations. These approaches were combined to create a potent strategy for procedure enhancement that placed a strong emphasis on effectiveness.

  • Beyond Manufacturing Expansion − Though manufacture was where Six Sigma first rose to importance, its concepts are applicable across sectors. The technique is currently in use in a number of areas, including communications, medicine, banking, and the financial industry. This extension demonstrates how Six Sigma techniques may be applied outside of their core industry.

  • Digital Transformation and Big Data Analytics − Over the past decade, technological improvements, such as the emergence of the digital shift and big data analytics, have had an impact on the development of Six Sigma. Large volumes of information are now available to organizations, allowing them to use mathematical modeling and data-driven decisions to enhance operations. In order to manage complex collections of data and encourage perpetual enhancement, Six Sigma approaches have been significantly improved with the incorporation of computerized tools, robotics, and artificial intelligence algorithms.

Six Sigma from Quality Control to Business Strategy

Recognizing Six Sigma's capability across specific procedures led to its expansion from a quality control tool to an overall company strategy. Six Sigma has begun to be included in corporate planning as well as decision-making within organizations. It becomes a key factor in accomplishing company goals, encouraging innovation, and improving company efficiency.

A number of influences and adjustments led to the development of Six Sigma from quality control to a business strategy. These were the main actions that caused this change −

  • Effectiveness − Six Sigma first attracted attention for its ability to enhance control over quality and decrease production-related flaws. Businesses saw the benefits it had on merchandise quality, client satisfaction, and overall procedure effectiveness

  • Expansion into Additional Industries − Six Sigma first attracted attention for its ability to enhance control over quality and decrease production-related flaws. Businesses saw the benefits it had on merchandise quality, client satisfaction, and overall procedure effectiveness

  • Combination with Lean Principles − The development of Six Sigma into a business strategy was greatly aided by the integration of the two methodologies. Lean thinking places a strong emphasis on minimizing inefficiency and maximizing client value, two aims that are complementary to Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma, which prioritized efficiency of procedures, cost containment, and customer-focused was created by combining the ideas of lean and Six Sigma.

  • Linkage with Strategy − Businesses began to understand that Six Sigma might provide benefits beyond improving processes. Their strategic planning and choice-making procedures started to incorporate Six Sigma. Instead of seeing it as an independent program, it evolved into a crucial component of the company's larger operating theology, harmonizing with its goals, standards, and objectives.

  • Organizational Change − Organizational change was necessary to adopt Six Sigma as a business strategy. This entailed creating solid deployment facilities, training a skilled team, and incorporating Six Sigma ideas into executive and managerial practices. The technique was embedded firmly into the organizational culture, promoting constant enhancement and a data-driven attitude throughout the organization.

  • Coherence with Organizational Goals − Six Sigma's development as a business strategy was aided by its close alignment with all-encompassing corporate goals. It developed into a tactical instrument for accomplishing corporate objectives including enhanced earnings, market share expansion, and client fulfillment. In addition to specific operations, larger strategic projects also used Six Sigma methodology and technologies.

  • Concentration on creativity − As Six Sigma developed, the emphasis shifted from just optimizing operations to encouraging creativity. Six Sigma was first utilized by businesses as an incentive for service, product, and method development and ongoing enhancement. They were able to maintain their competitiveness in an industry that was shifting quickly because of their competitive strategy.


A thorough examination of the development and effects of the Six Sigma technique can be found in "The Evolution of Six Sigma − From Quality Control to Business Strategy." The study tracks the development of Six Sigma from an empirical monitoring tool to an organizational strategy methodology.

It looks at how Six Sigma has changed from having a limited emphasis on eliminating defects to having a more comprehensive viewpoint that includes enhancement of processes, client delight, and company success.

The study focuses on how Six Sigma has expanded beyond being utilized largely in business environments to being employed across a variety of sectors, particularly offerings, medical care, and banking. It emphasizes how Six Sigma is integrated with other management theories like Lean and total quality control, highlighting the similarities and advantages of each.

Overall, "The Evolution of Six Sigma: From Quality Control to Business Strategy" offers a useful account of the development of Six Sigma, demonstrating how it changed from a quality control tool to an overall tactical leadership concept. It focuses on its function in promoting organizational success and long-term business growth and provides suggestions for how it might be applied across sectors.

Updated on: 25-Aug-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started