Exclusive Interview with Lean Six Sigma Guru, Nilakanta Srinivasan

Interviews MOOC Various

The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. ― Ronald Reagan

Nilakanta Srinivasan (aka Neil), Principal at Canopus Business Management Group and one of the top 10 Lean Six Sigma practitioners in India, is one such leader who believes in collaborative action for growth and innovation. Neil has devoted more than 17 years of his career to formulate and execute business transformation strategies for large enterprises. His unique and innovative strategic projects using Lean Six Sigma have earned benefits of over $20MN for various big players in the corporate world.

Neil now plans to share his extensive knowledge and experience with business students and professionals worldwide. He brings his free and open course,“Gain from the Power of Lean Six Sigma,” on January 27th.

I had the chance to interview Neil and learn more about his professional journey, Lean Six Sigma and his upcoming webinar.

And the conversation rolls:

  • First off, we’d like to know more about you and your professional journey. What can you tell us?

Neil: I finished my Masters’ in Manufacturing Management in 2001 and graduated in Production Technology and Physics in 1998 and started my career as an Engineer in TVS-Suzuki, a leading automobile manufacturer in India. Over the past 17 years, I have worked in various industries including banking, outsourcing, IT, discrete manufacturing & telecom business processes.

My first exposure to Lean methods was in TVS-Suzuki where I got an excellent opportunity to learn and apply Lean world class manufacturing techniques from Japanese experts who were the creators and proponents of the Lean approach in the Toyota Motor Corporation.

When I was employed with Whirlpool, I got a chance to learn Six Sigma methods and attend an intensive Black Belt Training Program.

That was just the beginning. I continued to pursue a similar line of work, but across industries such as banking and outsourcing. At Standard Chartered, I got the chance to contribute to the creation of a process transformation methodology called ‘Outserve’. I was subsequently involved in deploying this methodology across Europe, US, India, the Middle East and few South-East Asian countries. I continued to lead Lean Six Sigma initiatives for Bank of America in India and later for HSBC.

Now I coach & guide teams of several leading brands such as Vodafone, Pepsi, Barclays, Electronic Arts, TAFE, etc., on process transformation initiatives.

I have enjoyed every bit of this journey so far and continue to do so. If I was to sum up my learning in one simple phrase, that would be ‘Change means Future Fit’ and Lean Six Sigma prepares organizations to future fit.

  • In today’s world, how essential are Lean Six Sigma skills? How do they help a business develop?

Neil: As I mentioned, every organization, private sector, government and non-profit is constantly being challenged to evolve and become fit for the future. If they don’t, they perish. It’s like Darwin’s theory of evolution.

If we look at any professional’s job description, it involves two kinds of goals. The first is aimed at ‘running the business’ and the next is at ‘changing the business’. ‘Running the business’ means mundane stuff that all of us dread, but we don’t have a choice; we need to take care of them.

All organizations reward and recognize employees who can ‘change the business’ and make it future fit.

Lean Six Sigma is a proven tool and philosophy that can help organizations become future fit by transforming their processes. As a result, organizations are constantly looking for professionals who understand and know how to apply Lean Six Sigma methods to real life business scenarios.

Further, Lean Six Sigma is an industry agonistic skill, hence it doubles the opportunity for cross-industry employment.

  • You’re about to conduct a course on Lean Six Sigma skills with WizIQ. What is this course all about?

Neil:Gain from the Power of Lean Six Sigma’ is the name of the MOOC, Massive Open Online Course, that I’m conducting on WizIQ. This free and open course is aimed at providing a good understanding of Lean Six Sigma concept, its relevance and application across key sectors. Even if one has no prior knowledge of Lean Six Sigma but wants to get up-to-speed, this course is the best way to do so.

I’ll cover concepts such as – what is Lean, what is Six Sigma, various roles, responsibilities, certification belts, interpretations of Six Sigma, applications used in various industries, and more.

  • How would you describe the teaching approach you will use in this course?

Neil: This is a 6-week course with approximately one hour of live class every week. If one is not able to make it to the live class there’s nothing to worry about. The recording of the live class will be made available.

In addition to live classes, readings and assignments are included in this course. A participant should commit around two hours per week for this course.

The whole course is designed keeping in mind practical relevance. Hence, the teaching approach will include industry related scenarios, examples, case studies and assignments.

We will also encourage students/guest speakers who have proven practical experience in Lean Six Sigma to present their projects and share their experience in this course.

  • What sort of assignments will the students do? How will you review and assess their performance?

Neil: Assignments in this course will be aimed to assess the application knowledge of the student. They will be either case-based assignments or quizzes and will be reflective in nature.

WizIQ’s technology platform enables us to run quizzes for a large group of students, as in this course. For selective assignments, we’ll manually review the responses.

  • If you had one piece of advice to give to business school students or business professionals, what would it be?

Neil: Organizations hire you for your qualifications and past experience, but they will reward you only when you directly contribute to their strategic goals.

To be an agent of change, you need the rights skills and Lean Six Sigma will definitely supplement the core strengths that you already have. So, be future fit with Lean Six Sigma education.

There are various levels of proficiency in this course and associated with those levels are different certifications.The course ‘Gain from the Power of Lean Six Sigma’ will help you understand what kind of certification is best for you and help in creating a Six Sigma education roadmap.

I’m eagerly looking forward to beginning this course on WizIQ.

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Book your seat for the course here and benefit from the power of Lean Six Sigma and Neil’s expertise.


Amanjot Kaur

A marketer by profession and an explorer by nature. I love to read, learn, travel, experiment with new music and food, and have a good laugh.

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