In business operations, product or service variation exists on a bell/ normal curve. The concept of ‘bell curve was developed by Karl F. Gauss, a german mathematician in the 18th century. Although the term ‘six sigma’ was first used by Motorola engineer’s Bill Smith in the 1980s, as a measure of standard of product and process variation, six sigma dates back to 1920s when Walter Shewhart established what is now known as schematic control charts.

Walter A  Shewhart

In the 1980s, Motorola engineers Bill Smith and Mikel Harry recognized the importance of measuring variations in various processes and engaged their CEO Bob Gavin actively.  By late 80s Bob Gavin led a series of improvements in Motorola processes, propelling Six Sigma onto the international stage. Six Sigma helped Motorola to realize the powerful bottom line results in their company and save $16 billion as a result of the efforts. This was not only a standard to measure productivity, but also a cultural change in the company.

Next came AlliedSignal. Within months of adopting Six Sigma, under the leadership of Lawrence Bossidy, AlliedSignal was saving millions of dollars and improving their reputation and bottom line without laying staff.

Perhaps the commonly known proponent of six sigma is Jack Welch as CEO at General Electric. By end of 1995, GE had made Six Sigma its corporate wide initiatives and is often quoted as the company that used Six Sigma most impressively in improving efficiency and effectiveness of the organization.

General Electric

As evidenced by the integration of lean manufacturing into its principles, Six Sigma is an evolving management philosophy.

Lean Manufacturing has its origin as Toyota Production System and one flow design of Henry Ford. Over the years, Lean has evolved to be deliver results in both manufacturing and service industries. Lean’s focus in improving flow, engaging all employees and management, identifying and eliminating wastes. These are important in improving efficiency and effectiveness of operations.


When the two are combined, Lean Six Sigma becomes an effective business management system that reduces variations, increases accuracy and minimizes wasted resources in operations. This is achieved adapting processes and utilizing specific tools to unlock success across different sectors. Lean Six Sigma is one of the most recognized successful quality management approach worldwide.

Join us for the interactive  Business transformation and Operational Excellence Dinner  and learn more how Lean Six Sigma can help you deliver transformation results.