May 20, 2003
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Dear Editor,

I noticed that you didn’t mention Motorola among the companies that claimed success with Six Sigma, (Six Sigma is Legit, March 2003, p.6) even though it is my understanding that they coined and trademarked the term. If you had looked beyond the claims of improvements at the Miami conference, and had asked for objective evidence, you would find little. Thomas P. O’Boyle’s book, “At Any Cost: Jack Welch, General Electric, and the Pursuit of Profit,” explains why this could occur.

When their job is on the line, subordinates often report what their boss wants to hear, which may not be the whole truth. If you feel you may be fired for negative numbers, then you may feel compelled to “manage the numbers.” O’Boyle noted that Welch demanded increases in every division regardless of economic conditions.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audits our facility on a regular basis to ensure we meet their requirements. Some of our customers wanted us to get ISO certification a number of years ago. I have found that the FAA audit is much more thorough than our ISO audits. To date I have found little use for the ISO certification or for Six Sigma. I am still a Six Sigma skeptic.

Jeffrey G. Williams
Supervisor of Quality Engineering, Software QA, and Calibration
Astronautics Corp. of America

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