Gregory H. Watson – Biography

Greg was born on 16 July 1948 in Englewood, New Jersey (USA) to Robert John Watson, Jr. (1914-1995) and Anne Faye (Bellotte) Watson (1917-1999). His paternal family was Scottish and his maternal family was French and German. He lived in his home town of Tenafly, New Jersey until he departed for university studies. He graduated with a bachelor of arts (cum laude) from Taylor University, a Christian liberal arts college located in Upland, Indiana. At Taylor his liberal arts program of studies was supplemented with a minor in chemistry. Greg received a University Fellowship from American University to study philosophy and he lectured students in symbolic logic where his students were predominantly computer programmers.

In 1971 he volunteered to serve in the Navy and was commissioned an officer. He served in the aviation anti-submarine warfare forces and progressed to lieutenant commander. For two years he was seconded from the Navy to the Center for Naval Analyses where he was a member of the professional staff of the Operations Evaluation Group, the field representatives who conduct the operations research and mission analysis to support naval operations. In this role he served as director for operational test and evaluation and he wrote his first paper on quality focusing on the requirements for software acceptance testing. His military experience was supplemented by completing a graduate diploma in political economics at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, a Master of Science degree in systems engineering management from the University of Southern California, and a Master of Arts degree in legal studies from Antioch University School of Law. In 1983 he shifted careers from the military to the commercial world and joined Hewlett-Packard.

His years at HP were spent at the San Diego Division and in Corporate in both Manufacturing and Quality Offices. During his HP years he was introduced to Japanese quality methods as a participant on study missions to Japan and through HP’s implementation of both Just-in-Time production and Total Quality Management. He worked in positions in R&D, manufacturing management, productivity systems development and quality management. His last position was as the Manager of the Quality Leadership Program where he introduced benchmarking and he designed and delivered training for divisional quality managers.

From HP, Greg was recruited to become Director of Corporate Quality at Compaq Computer. In this role he completely redesigned the quality system of Compaq, introducing a precursor to the Six Sigma initiative that was built on the variant under development at Texas Instruments. He built a strong team in the quality office and rapidly completed ISO9000 certification for all the manufacturing and service centers in the world. He designed a new approach to benchmarking which he documented in The Benchmarking Workbook (Productivity Press, 1992).

Following his termination at Compaq Computer (this story is worth a book chapter or journal article, not a paragraph), Greg was offered the position of Quality Vice President at Xerox. Just one problem – he could not start the new job for six months. So, in the interim he served as the Vice President of Benchmarking for the American Productivity & Quality Center. In this role he developed training courses, consulted to companies to help them create benchmarking efforts, designed information systems as a repository for benchmarking studies, and solicited corporate donations to build this not-for-profit center. During this time he also co-edited a guidebook on practical suggestions for benchmarking (The Benchmarking Management Guide (Productivity Press, 1993).

At Xerox he continued writing and developing quality systems built around benchmarking, policy deployment, business assessment, and statistical problem solving. He helped Xerox to create the “Business Excellence Model” and “Managing for Results” – two recognized best practices of their time. When he became ill and could not work, he turned to writing to keep himself occupied and wrote: Strategic Benchmarking (Wiley, 1993), A World of Quality – The Timeless Passport (Quality Press, 1994), and Business Systems Engineering (Wiley, 1994). His book Strategic Benchmarking was selected for the Fortune Magazine Book-of-the-Month Club and Library Journal rated it one of the twelve best business books of 1993. It was translated into nine languages.

Greg departed Xerox after this period and started a consulting company so he could have a less rigorous work schedule. However, his client list continued to grow as broader and more strategic consulting projects came his way. He has had long-term assignments with Hewlett-Packard, Nokia Mobile Phones, ExxonMobil, and Toshiba. Among the clients of his boutique consulting firm he also includes such a wide variety from well-known service multinational Ritz-Carlton Hotels, high technology company Microsoft, to small business concerns like Standard Furniture Company of Monterrey, Mexico. Paralleling his consulting has been a strong commitment to dedicated volunteer service with the American Society for Quality, International Academy for Quality and the Institute for Industrial Engineers. During his consulting years he has continued to write books: Six Sigma for Business Leaders (GOAL/QPC, 2004), Design for Six Sigma (GOAL/QPC, 2005), and Strategic Benchmarking Reloaded with Six Sigma (Wiley, 2007).

Greg continues to be active in research, volunteer work, consulting, and teaching. He is adjunct professor at Oklahoma State University College of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology in the Industrial Engineering and Management Department where he teaches classes in the graduate program of Engineering Technology Management.