In 1987, after working for nearly 35 years in engineering and quality assurance, he joined Motorola. In the late 1970’s, Motorola was in the midst of a 10 times (10X) higher quality level initiative to try and catch up with Japanese competitors, specifically television sets. Smith, Harry and CEO Bob Galvin were credited with bringing Japanese quality control methods back to the USA (based on the teaching of W. Edwards Deming).
However, Motorola still lacked a common metric for sharing and comparing improvement initiatives until Smith presented the Six Sigma calculation and idea to Bob Galvin in 1985.
“Six Sigma” was used to describe an expected level of design margin and product quality. Smith and Harry worked together to come up with a four-stage problem-solving approach: measure, analyze, improve, control (MAIC), which became a cornerstone for the Six Sigma process, later called DMAIC.
As a result of their quality improvement program, Motorola was the first company to win the Malcolm Baldrige Award. Winners agree to share their quality programs with anyone who is interested, and many were eager to learn more about Six Sigma. This was one of the primary reasons it became so widely known.
His approach to Six Sigma was simple, “If you want to improve something, involve the people who are doing the job.”