Each year, the executive recruiting and search firm The Avery Point Group conducts a comprehensive study of the latest talent demand trends for lean and Six Sigma. As an executive search firm, Avery Point has a unique vantage point from which to track trends taking place in industry. Trends in industry are often telegraphed into candidate requirements in job postings and can serve as a window into the latest corporate initiatives. For its annual study, the firm takes a significant look at Six Sigma and lean job postings found on the major job boards and review each job title and job content profile to gain a deeper understanding of the latest talent demand trends.

Over the years of conducting the study, Avery Point has seen a significant shift in the "center of gravity" as it relates to the prominence of Lean as the rising and now more dominate player in the corporate world of continuous improvement. This is a significant shift from the first study in 2005, where Six Sigma outpaced lean by more than 50 percent as the more desired skill set. Avery Point fully expects this trend to continue in our future studies as more companies turn to lean as a hedge against growing economic and inflationary challenges.

In the end, however, the real winner is any company that successfully engages in some form of continuous improvement, regardless of whether it is lean, Six Sigma, or some other well-executed approach.

"I can't think of any company that claims to be world class that is not utilizing some form of continuous improvement approach," says Tim Noble, managing principal of The Avery Point Group. "World-class status is a constantly moving target defined by both your customers and your competitors. Without a continuous improvement approach you're not even treading water in today's highly competitive global economy."