Six Sigma History - Motorola Six Sigma
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Six Sigma History
How did the Motorola Six Sigma way of thinking become a global business improvement philosophy?
Six sigma history begins before the 1980's. This was a time when many businesses (who later took up six sigma) were focused on managing outputs.
By managing outputs I mean they focused on output measures. The outputs of sales, profitability, market share and growth were the main determining factors of the performance of their businesses. And they managed their business around the performances of these output measures.
But this approach was not delivering successful results and so from the late 1970's into the early 80's the electronics company Motorola began to think differently.
Motorola six sigma began to look at sales, profitability, market share and growth in another way. Motorola six sigma history was beginning.
The Early Days - History of Six Sigma - Motorola Six Sigma
What was happening was that in the late 1970's Motorola was a massive successful electronics business but they had some big problems. There was a lot of waste, a lot of scraped material and a lot of re-work.
The executives of the time came to the conclusion that quality at Motorola was their biggest problem and they had to fix it.
So from the late 70's to the early 80's they focused the business on quality, an input measure. This here is a key turning point. They changed from focusing on the outputs and results of production to the inputs and processes of production.
And so for about the next five years quality systems guidelines were developed and introduced. These included process operation and control systems, developing human resource management systems, reviewing compensation and incentive arrangements, problem solving techniques, quality data programs, customer satisfaction assessments, and more.
The processes of working with customers and suppliers and the firms relationship with them, and internal training etc all came into question.
The concept became to focus on the inputs and take action to address the outputs as needed
The belief was that if companies get the inputs right, the final end product or service that the customer gets will be right and so customer satisfaction will increase. And it would be this that would then have a direct affect on the output measure of sales, profitability, market share and growth.
As a result of this journey focusing on quality and on reducing and eliminating defects, (the cause of waste, scraped material and re-work) by the mid 80's Motorola Six Sigma had been developed and introduced as a continuous improvement methodology.
The Metric, The Inputs to Focus on and Measure would be 'Defects'
A part of this focus on quality, Motorola engineers determined that measuring defects per unit produced did not provide enough of a detailed level of information for analysis
. To capture and reduce the potential for things to go wrong they needed to look at processes in more detail. They determined they wanted to measure per opportunity.
Where this is especially relevant for business improvement change management consultants and particularly in process improvement jobs is in how this concept applies when doing business process reengineering.
What it means is that in any manufacturing or service process there are any number of opportunities for something to go wrong at each step in the process. Every time we service a customer there is an opportunity for something to go wrong in every activity performed. Motorola wanted to measure at this opportunity level.
They started to measure defects per million opportunities. They focused on the inputs as the measure of quality and they focused on the cultural changes required for them to be successful in this initiative.
This model is explained in more detail on the page Six Sigma Process
Motorola Six Sigma History - The Improvements, The Results
What was the outcome of Motorola Six Sigma? Well Motorola six sigma history tells us their sales, profitability, market share and growth all improved significantly.
The six sigma process was an outstanding success. Waste, scraped material, re-work and repair had all decreased. Manufacturing costs decreased, employee productivity had improved, there were significant cost savings and Motorola became a much more valuable business.
By the late 1980's and early 1990's six sigma had began to spread around the world. More and more global leaders began to appreciate the benefits of this approach and began to adapt the philosophy to focus on quality and process.
Today Motorola six sigma is used in organisations all over the world both in manufacturing and service industries. Six sigma history continues to evolve.
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Page 1 - Define six sigma. What is six sigma?
Page 2 - Overview of six sigma. Why do firms like it, the requirements for success, when to use it and when not to?
Page 3 - Six Sigma History
and Motorola six sigma.
Page 4 - The steps in six sigma methodology.
Page 5 - The six sigma process and six sigma basics for process improvement jobs.
Page 6 - What is lean six sigma, lean six sigma online training, lean six sigma tools and the lean six sigma methodology.
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