It started in 1981. Motorola like most American companies was reeling under the threat of Japanese competition. Recovering from World War-2, the Japanese had built such a remarkable quality initiative that they were way ahead of any American company and were undercutting them on prices causing grave losses in terms of profitability and market share. Motorola was compelled into action. But the management at Motorola made an ambitious plan. They decided to give the Japanese a taste of their own medicine and beat them at their own game i.e. quality.
For this reason, the management summoned the top engineers in Motorola and told them to combine all the best quality management practices known till that time and make an aggregated methodology which would be the base of Motorola’s competitive quality improvement program. Thus was developed the first Six Sigma program.
Motorola immediately took up a loft goal. They already were a respected manufacturing firm and had stringent quality measures. However, analysis had revealed that they were lagging way behind the Japanese and to be competitive they had to improve their quality goals by a 1000% in five years. Thus an ambitious goal of a 10:1 quality improvement came into picture.
Most experts thought it was suicidal for Motorola to attempt to do so, especially given the fact that Motorola was making huge investments in the quality initiative. Media criticized Motorola for using shareholder funds for goals that can be compared to fantasies. However the management did not pay heed. At the end of 5 years, almost every business unit functioning inside Motorola Inc. had achieved the 10:1 goal, boosting the morale of the workforce and silencing the critics.
However, Motorola realized that the Japanese were once again way ahead of them. This is because the Japanese had also launched a similar program. Even though their program was not as good as Motorola, they were ahead because of their previous lead. The Motorola Management...