Lean overtakes Six Sigma as the continuous improvement method of choice

Interesting study by the Avery Point Group points to a surge in Lean over Six Sigma in corporate continuous improvement efforts.

Based on its sixth annual study (http://www.leansigmatalent.com) of Internet job postings, The Avery Point Group found that demand for Lean talent has surpassed Six Sigma by a substantial margin as the more desired skill set, accelerating an already growing shift in talent demand toward Lean. This year’s study showed that Lean talent demand exceeded Six Sigma by almost 35 percent, significantly widening its lead over last year’s results that only showed an 11 percent edge for Lean over Six Sigma. This is a dramatic shift from The Avery Point Group’s 2005 inaugural Lean and Six Sigma talent demand study that showed Six Sigma talent demand exceeding Lean by more than 50 percent.

This year’s study also found that for those companies seeking Lean talent, only 41 percent require candidates to possess Six Sigma knowledge as well, a requirement that has continued to decline in The Avery Point Group’s more recent talent demand studies. On the other hand, for those companies seeking Six Sigma talent, almost 55 percent are now requiring candidates to possess Lean knowledge as well, a requirement that has steadily grown in its previous talent demand studies.

So where does this newfound prominence for Lean leave Six Sigma in the broader landscape of corporate continuous improvement? One telling sign from this year’s study is that companies seeking strictly Six Sigma skills with no Lean talent requirement accounted for only 25 percent of positions posted in The Avery Point Group’s broad sampling of continuous improvement-related jobs.

Does this spell the beginning of the end for Six Sigma? Not likely, but Six Sigma may find itself taking a back seat to a broader Lean deployment, with Six Sigma applied when and where its heavy emphasis on statistics and variation reduction is best suited.


Pragmatic approaches to process improvement have always been preferred above overly complex methods. Six Sigma will never go away completely but I’m at least heartened by the last comment that it will play a lesser role and that it’s boffin-like statistical approach only used to suit the circumstances and not be applied as the norm. If this is becomes the case, then is a Six Sigma Green Belt now worth more than a Black Belt ?

You can read the full article here:



One response to “Lean overtakes Six Sigma as the continuous improvement method of choice

  1. Makes sense. Use the tool that fits the job at hand. If the process is messed up, the low-hanging fruit is in streamlining and moving it away from batch & queue. Use lean to fix and get the major improvements from a process. Use the non-Lean aspects of Six Sigma when the cause of variation in a process is not obvious and needs more advanced statistical analysis.

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