Is six sigma dying?

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  • #2465 Reply
    Jenny Demeules

    As I have been applying to jobs and talking with companies it seems like six sigma has lost its strength. Companies use to provide six sigma training courses and black belt projects, but I haven’t really seen that to be the case any more. Has anyone seen otherwise in industry?

    #2466 Reply
    Aahnik Baruah

    Hi Jenny, I have had quite the opposite experience when it comes to Six Sigma knowledge required by industry. I made it a point to apply to companies that proclaim themselves to be six sigma compliant and received a very good response. A few examples would be:

    1. Mercury Marine: Wisconsin based manufacturer of Boat Engines. They have a global Six Sigma deployment team that is looking for Six Sigma Green and Black Belts. I got a chance to Co-op there.

    2. Other companies would include Cummins, the Automotive majors,3M, etc. In fact, even consulting companies are looking for people experienced in Six Sigma concepts for their Operations practices.

    Hope this helps with your job search!

    #2469 Reply
    QiWen Shu

    According to my internship experience at Inalfa roof system last summer, six sigma is still an emphasis on the manufacturing side, especially among quality control side, there are plenty of six sigma graphs posted on the wall to inform the workers how our progress is going on.

    #2470 Reply
    Nicole Boehne


    I also would have to disagree with you. I interned for a company last summer and we regularly provided six sigma training and workshops for all employees. Also, many of the companies I have interviewed with have asked specifically if I have any six sigma background, so I think it is something you shouldn’t gloss over, it is very important knowledge to have, especially in manufacturing.

    #2494 Reply

    Jenny – I agree with the fact that many companies have stopped giving six sigma training. Companies have started to realize that industrial engineers have already learnt courses related to six sigma in college and hence are not providing any additional training. As Nicole pointed out six sigma knowledge is still important and would be extremely useful in manufacturing companies.

    Good Luck with your job search!

    #2495 Reply
    Karthi MB

    I partially agree to your point Jenny Demeulus. For example, in a manufacturing setting six sigma was mostly concentrated on reducing defective units produced by machines. Long before manufacturing operations were based on human skills to to attain perfection and six sigma was widely used to correct the errors in the machine even if the operator operating procedure was correct. In the same time if a process needs to be further improved more resource have to be poured in to make any improvement.

    But with advancement in technology, for instance the machining centers manufactured nowadays have precision to produce parts with aircraft tolerance. They are even are provided with a probe that measures part dimension right immediately after machining and if there is any deviation from normality it is signaled to the operator and the machine positioning is adjusted instantly. So variations are corrected instantly. This saves resource and time.

    So companies in recent days have started to look for individuals who can bring real change to the process not just by improving it, but how efficiently it can be performed.  Companies now believe in low cost automation and reduced usage of human force to achieve the same quality that could be achieved with six sigma.

    #2498 Reply

    There was an article on this subject in Quality Digest (or some other publication I can’t remember correctly) some time ago. The reason for this notion that they gave was that the big practitioners of the concept have reduced training on Six Sigma. However, I think it is still a skill worth to have.

    During my job search, for any profile related to manufacturing, I was asked if I had a green belt. The company I am going to work for, has a formal Black Belt training program. I have seen that automotive industry is still serious about Six Sigma. But the widespread application in other fields have come down, I think.

    #2663 Reply
    Shane Pieroth

    Reply to Jenny Demeules of #2465:


    While my understanding of six sigma is rather basic and comes only from ISYE 315, it seems to me that six sigma is still an important concept in industry. I know that UW-Madison allows you to get a six sigma greenbelt certification through supplementary courses. According to my 315 TA, her UW-Madison six sigma green belt impressed potential employers in interviews and helped her to get job offers.

    #2666 Reply

    I recently got a job with a process improvement department at a hospital, and their department hadn’t heard of six sigma before my interview. It was a great talking point in the interview and must have impressed them enough because I got the job. I think many companies don’t have industrial engineers on their process improvement teams, so they might not have anyone to implement six sigma interventions, but I think for certain processes lean and 5s aren’t going to get the company the desired result. For these processes, it’s extremely beneficial to have a six sigma black (or green) belt on the staff.

    #2689 Reply
    Bridget Roehrs

    Annie, that’s actually very surprising that a hospital would not have heard of six sigma. Considering six sigma has saved some companies billions of dollars over the past few years, it’s something that is definitely gaining popularity and should be used by companies who want to succeed. I also find it interesting that you say many companies don’t have industrial engineers on their process improvement teams since that’s basically our job. Maybe companies think you need a business degree to make a business better? I think IE is an integral part of process improvement.

    #3478 Reply
    Jake Birrenkott

    I think the hype for six sigma may have died, but throughout our discipline and industry I would say its the least bit dead. From working at Harley-Davidson and Electronic Theatre Controls, it seems that almost every engineer I worked with was in the process of becoming certified, was already certified or was being pressured to be. However, those where both in larger manufacturing companies. Perhaps is smaller companies it is not as wide spread.

    #3481 Reply
    Lizzy Svigelj

    In my internship experience, the company I worked for was in the process of developing its own continuous improvement system and using that instead of six sigma. However, many of the tools I learned in my Industrial Engineering coursework at UW-Madison was regularly used- FMEA, fishbone diagrams, capability studies, SPC, etc. Many of the engineers also had a working understanding of Six Sigma and used that in manufacturing, quality, and operations projects.

    I am starting full-time with this company in August and I’m looking forward to learning more about the continuous improve system and see how it compares to Lean and Six Sigma!

    #3550 Reply
    Vy Nguyen

    In my internship experience, I have worked for two big companies, and they both really valued Six Sigma. I believe that successful companies always strive to continuous improve their processes whether they’re business/ manufacturing processes, and Six Sigma provides great tools to do so.

    #3619 Reply

    Gained my six sigma certification green belt during the last year of my undergraduate. The certification is not as useful as I expected unless you are entering the manufacturing companies and they are looking for a quality engineer.

    #3631 Reply
    Maxsen Berken

    As with any certification, it only applies if your profession works with six sigma. If six sigma methodologies are not directly applicable to your work, you wont use it day-to-day. If I got a certificate in Pilates, I wouldn’t expect engineering firms to talk about Pilates in Industrial Engineering. However, if I was applying to an Industrial engineering position for a company that works with Pilates instructors, I would expect my Pilates knowledge to be sought after.

    Bottom line: Certificates and certifications need to directly apply to your profession for companies to look for them in your interviews.

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