Why would a company invest in providing six sigma training to hundreds of its employees? For Irish Life, the largest life and pensions group and fund manager in Ireland, it’s all about innovation.

According to a report from Business and Leadership, about 40 of the 300 people involved in the company’s corporate division are focused on innovation and information technology. They’re responsible for leading and driving for change across the business. However, when it came to six sigma training and the benefits that the methodology could provide to the corporate division, it wasn’t offered to just those 40 people. It was offered to all 300.

All 300 employees chose to participate and are certified at the yellow belt level. Around 10 went on to obtain their green belts, and another three or four have become black belt certified, the report stated. What the company discovered after the training took place was that more ideas are being created. The training, when combined with market and customer research, has led to specific innovations including a smartphone app and the commitment to use less paper.

With the high degree of competition in the financial services field, the report noted, constant innovation is crucial. While others in the industry shrugged off the notion of applying a methodology that was originally designed for efficiency in manufacturing, Irish Life has put it to work for them.

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