Latest Study from Avery Point Group Concludes: Demand for Lean Professionals Remains Strong, While Six Sigma Talent Demand Continues to Decline

ATLANTA, June 15, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Executive search and recruiting firm, The Avery Point Group (APG – highlighted the findings of its new study focused on the content from a wide collection of major internet job board postings. The study found ongoing robust demand for Continuous Improvement skills overall, with Six Sigma talent demand showing further signs of waning relative to Lean. This trend has accelerated since the firm’s 2008 study, when Lean first eclipsed Six Sigma as the more desired skill set. And most dramatically: this is a major shift away from the Six Sigma talent demand dominance found in APG’s first 2005 study, over 17 years ago.

The Avery Point Group recently found that demand for job postings looking exclusively for Six Sigma skills, with no mention of Lean in the job specification, plummeted to only 13% – down from 27% in their last talent demand study in 2013. And a deeper review of this year’s data also shows that Six Sigma became a much weaker requirement, even within Lean Job postings as well.

In APG’s 2013 talent study, 43% of the Lean jobs posted also sought candidates with a Six Sigma skill set. But today, that requirement has plummeted to only 29%, further indicating that Six Sigma’s once-dominant stance within Continuous Improvement continues to fade.

The most recent study also found that job postings seeking Lean skills only, with no mention of Six Sigma, leaped to 62% – up from 41% found in a corresponding APG talent demand study from 2013. When comparing the overall demand between desired skill sets, Lean skills exceeded Six Sigma by a whopping 129% – by far the largest margin ever seen in the firm’s 17 years of talent demand studies.

Tim Noble, managing principal and partner of APG, points to several factors that may be driving this waning demand for Six Sigma:

  • Companies continue to be even more focused on hiring a purer Lean skill set they feel will be more accretive to their existing continuous improvement needs. Companies are opting to consolidate their limited resources around Lean as a hedge against the steep challenges of today’s economic climate, which they feel may be better served by Lean’s more immediate and practical focus on waste, flow, and flexibility.
  • Companies also find that their Lean journeys are still in need of further maturation and development, necessitating a continued need for skilled Lean talent. In addition, some companies have underestimated what it takes from a time and talent resource perspective to shift their Lean initiatives from a tools-based approach to one where Lean is fully embedded into their operating culture.
  • Right or wrong, many companies continue to focus their initial and ongoing Continuous Improvement efforts on leaning out their operations by first eliminating waste, putting standard work in place, and improving flow/throughput – often focusing later on reducing process variation and leveraging more of a Six Sigma approach. Although some companies have a well-integrated approach, most are continuing to focus on the initial Lean centric side of the equation.

"As a downside to the waning demand for Six Sigma skills, we are starting to see that some candidates struggle to demonstrate the knowledge needed to fill a client’s key Six Sigma needs when it comes to our technical assessments – even though a candidate may have been trained and certified as a Black Belt or Master Black Belt," said Noble. "We find that this is usually driven by the lack of recent on-the-job use of these skills by candidates, given the continued shift toward Lean. In some cases, it is also due to the poor training that some candidates received from the plethora of Six Sigma training and certification companies that still exist today. As a result, these poor training sources do great harm to both candidates’ credibility and the perception of Six Sigma as a skill set in the market."

Do these ongoing talent demand trends spell the demise of Six Sigma as a factor in an organization’s broader Continuous Improvement efforts?

"Absolutely not," Noble said. "Six Sigma still has a very important place in Continuous Improvement work where it can be best leveraged to solve complex systemic process problems by targeting process variation, process yield, and to gain a better understanding of the input factors that drive a process’s overall performance and capability. The overall foundation of Continuous Improvement should be viewed as a collection of complementary tools that integrates both Lean and Six Sigma, which are then applied as appropriate."

"Overall, there are certainly benefits to integrating both methodologies, but the steep challenges of today’s inflationary pressures may favor Lean’s more immediate and practical focus on waste, flow, and flexibility. Those looking to gain or improve their knowledge of Six Sigma should choose where they get their training and certification carefully. They should seek out roles and challenges where they have an opportunity to use Six Sigma’s tools to keep their skills sharp and immediate."

About The Avery Point Group (APG)

The Avery Point Group is a global executive search and recruiting firm that assists companies in identifying, assessing, and recruiting mid-level management to senior executive transformation leadership talent. APG leverages principals over 60 years of executive business transformation and staffing experience to provide the highest quality retained and contingent executive search services.

APG provides functional expertise and executive search focus in the areas of Six Sigma, Lean, and Operations. Their practice services a wide spectrum of industries including manufacturing, distribution, private equity, and transactionally focused, service-based global companies. Learn more at:

Media Contact:
Tim Noble
+1 678-585-9804 x101

SOURCE The Avery Point Group