Bill Smith (Motorola engineer)

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William B. Smith, Jr. (1929 – 1993) is the "Co-founder of Six Sigma" along with Dr Mikel J Harry. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Smith graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1952 and studied at the University of Minnesota School of Management (now known as the Carlson School of Management). In 1987, after working for nearly 35 years in engineering and quality assurance, he joined Motorola, serving as vice president and senior quality assurance manager for the Land Mobile Products Sector.

In the late 1970s, as John F. Mitchell was on the ascendancy to being named President and COO in 1980, he was joined by other senior managers, notably, CEO Bob Galvin, Jack Germain, and Art Sundry[1][2] who worked in John F. Mitchell's pager organization to set the quality bar 10 times higher. Sundry was reputed to have shouted "Our quality stinks"[3] at an organizational meeting attended by Galvin, John F. Mitchell and other senior executives; and Sundry got to keep his job.[3] But most importantly, the breakthroughs occurred when it was recognized that intensified focus and improved measurements, data collection, and more disciplined statistical approaches[2][4][5] John F. Mitchell's untiring efforts,[6][7] and support from Motorola engineers[8] and senior management, prevailed and brought Japanese quality control methods back to the USA,[9] and resulted in a significant and permanent change in culture at Motorola. "We ought to be better than we are," said Germain, director of Quality Improvement.[3] The culmination of Motorola quality engineering efforts occurred in 1986, with the help of an outside quality control consultant who joined Motorola, Bill Smith[10][11][12] when the Motorola University and Six-Sigma Institute[9] was founded. Two years later, in 1988, Motorola received the coveted Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award,[13] which is given by the president of the United States. Smith died of a heart attack in the Motorola cafeteria in 1993.


  • "Six-sigma design", IEEE Spectrum, 30 (9): 43–47, 1993, doi:10.1109/6.275174
  • "Total Customer Satisfaction as a Business Strategy", Quality and Reliability Engineering International, 9: 49–53, 1993, doi:10.1002/qre.4680090109


  • Motorola CEO Quality Award, 1986 — for his work in correlating early life field reliability to total defects found in the manufacturing process.[14]

See also[edit]

Six Sigma


  1. ^ "The John Mitchell Quality Tester". Chicago Tribune. June 14, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "A Brief History of Six Sigma: Art Sundry applied statistical methods to the Motorola Pager business"
  3. ^ a b c The New Six Sigma: A Leader's Guide to Achieving Rapid Business Improvement and Sustainable Results. Retrieved March 6, 2012, By: Matt Barney; Tom McCarty, Publisher: Prentice Hall, Pub. Date: December 19, 2002, ISBN 978-0-13-101399-5
  4. ^ Six Sigma Statistical Approach (1) on YouTube had to be applied to the causes of variance.]
  5. ^ Schroeder, Richard A.; MIKEL PHD HARRY (2006). Six Sigma: The Breakthrough Management Strategy Revolutionizing the World's Top Corporations. Sydney: Currency. p. 9. ISBN 0-385-49438-6
  6. ^ "The John Mitchell Quality Tester". Chicago Tribune. June 14, 2009
  7. ^ John F. Mitchell biography: Longtime Motorola Leader by Sandra Guy John F. Mitchell, Longtime Motorola Leader: (a): (h):"Do it the engineering way, the proper way" (b): "John F. Mitchell was very intelligent..creative..original..just a very good guy." (c): "John F. Mitchell had a reputation of being frugal," (d): "It was not about him or his perks, but rather the Team, " (e): "Colleagues stood in awe of his brilliance and his stand up management style." (f): Summary of Motorola Career. (g): John F. Mitchell, Longtime Motorola Leader - "You couldn't put one over on John," (i): John F. Mitchell, Longtime Motorola Leader, "kept everyone on their toes." by Sandra Guy, Chicago Sun-Times, July 2, 2009
  8. ^ Jim Mikulski, co-inventor cell phone on team effort Chicago Tribune (a):"John F. Mitchell known as a hands on manager" (b): (c): (e): (f): (g): "willing to give credit to those who worked in the trenches." (c): (d): "I remember his delegating his task as...GM to work in the Applied Research Lab and in give and take with the engineers as the Federal Trade Commission docket 18262 that would shape Motorola's the 1970s." (h): John F. Mitchell team member, (i) patent holder
  9. ^ a b Tennant, Geoff (2001). Six Sigma: SPC and TQM in Manufacturing and Services - Quality Returns to America, Gower Publishing, Ltd.. p. 6. ISBN 0566083744.
  10. ^ iSixSigma's Inaugural Hall of Fame Inductee: Bill Smith
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2005-11-06. Retrieved 2006-01-29.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Motorola University and the founding of Six Sigma
  12. ^ Bill Smith Remembered as the Father of Six Sigma
  13. ^ Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award
  14. ^ Motorola, Inc. Annual Report 1986 (PDF), Motorola, Inc., retrieved October 20, 2016