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Avery Point Group

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Six Sigma

Lean Talent Demand Edges Out Six Sigma

Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - 10:07

(Avery Point Group: Atlanta, Georgia) -- After years of steady gains, lean has achieved a slight edge over Six Sigma as the more desired skill set. The accelerating demand for lean talent is an indicator that companies are increasingly looking to lean as a means to help them combat the current economic headwinds they are facing, according to an annual study by The Avery Point Group, a national executive recruiting firm.

“As an executive recruiting firm, we have a unique vantage point from which to observe the latest trends taking place in industry,” says Tim Noble, managing principal of The Avery Point Group. “Trends in industry are often telegraphed into candidate requirements in job postings, and they can serve as a window into the latest corporate initiatives. Our annual study continues to offer useful insight into the latest trends taking place in the area of corporate continuous improvement.”

Based on its fourth-annual study of internet job postings, the recruiting company found that Six Sigma may no longer hold its once dominant position in the world of corporate continuous improvement initiatives, as was found in its three previous annual studies. For the first time, the study showed that demand for lean talent has grown to eclipse and slightly exceed that of Six Sigma. The growth in interest in lean talent has not, however, come at the expense of Six Sigma; rather, this year’s study continues to confirm an overall increasing demand for continuous improvement talent, with lean driving most of the recent talent demand growth.

The study also found that for those companies seeking Six Sigma or lean talent, 50 percent are looking for practitioners that have both skill sets. Further, the study indicated that job postings are making increasing demands on candidates, requiring them to possess a much deeper knowledge and experience skill sets with regard to their lean backgrounds versus prior years.

“No longer is it acceptable for candidates to claim to have a lean Sigma or lean Six Sigma background,” says Noble. “Companies want to see candidates that have the hardcore lean experience gained in a true lean transformation setting, and that can’t be gained from an environment where lean is an afterthought or a lesser appendage to an existing Six Sigma program.”

Despite the rising prominence of lean as the potentially new dominant continuous improvement methodology, Six Sigma is by no means past its prime, as evidenced by its continued talent demand resilience. The study, however, indicates that companies facing strong economic headwinds, are seriously considering the value of balancing the two methodologies when implementing continuous improvement initiatives.

“This is certainly a major center of gravity shift from our first study in 2005 where Six Sigma talent demand outpaced lean by more than 50 percent,” says Noble. “However, in the end, the real winner is any company that successfully engages in some form of continuous improvement, regardless of whether it is lean, Six Sigma, or a well-executed combination of both.”

The Avery Point Group  can be found on the web at www.averypointgroup.com.

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