Dayan Hengedara, CEO, The Lean Six Sigma Company Asia and Pradeesh Wanniarachchi, Managing Partner, The Lean Six Sigma Company Asia, are taking globally proven practical management concepts to Asia from out of Sri Lanka. Despite the pandemic-related disruptions, they are finding success because businesses want to emerge stronger out of the crisis faster and realise growth and higher ROIs.
Pradeesh counts over 15 years of senior management experience in the apparel, chemical, hospitality, and automotive industries, and Dayan has covered the same number of years in the apparels industry in senior management. They both left senior management roles in established companies, lured by the opportunities to make a difference, and build a global business.
What can you tell us about Lean Six Sigma, its evolution as a philosophy, and its acceptance in Sri Lanka?
Lean Six Sigma is a globally practised methodology for bringing down operational costs and lead times while improving product quality and customer satisfaction across manufacturing and services industries. Lean Six Sigma combines two philosophies: Lean helps you to identify and eliminate inefficiencies in the process to significantly reduce operational cost; Six Sigma is a proven methodology to reduce process variation to significantly improve product quality to meet customer expectations through statistical tools and techniques.
Most of the Lean concepts developed in Japan as a manufacturing concept when the auto industry took off post World War II. Six Sigma emerged in the latter half of the 20th century in the US. It gained traction as a management discipline when Motorola, followed by General Electric, found success using it.
Lean Six Sigma combines the two philosophies and stretches their limitations in a significant way. Lean Six Sigma provides the framework for a culture change in any business and improves collaboration among teams for transformational gains in performance efficiencies, variation reduction, and waste elimination. Today, most of the Fortune 500 companies and leading global businesses deploy Lean Six Sigma as a strategic tool to enhance revenue and profitability. Lean Six Sigma certification comes in various skill levels Yellow belt, Green belt and Black belt and demand for the qualification is growing.
In Sri Lanka, apparel manufacturers were the first to use Lean Six Sigma to enhance global competitiveness by reducing operational costs and supply chain lead times. The great successes they enjoyed prompted companies in other industries like banking, healthcare, hospitality, logistics and pharmaceuticals to adopt Lean Six Sigma at different levels.
What does the Lean Six Sigma Company Sri Lanka do? How would you describe your business?
The Lean Six Sigma Company is based in the Netherlands, and it is Europe’s leading Lean Six Sigma provider. With offices in more than 25 countries across North America, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia, we are among a few management education and training organizations to receive the ISO 18404 and ISO 13053 global standards. For over 18 years, The Lean Six Sigma Company has trained over 27,000 professionals from over 4,000 businesses, collaborating with eight leading universities in Europe and delivering our training programmes in more than 10 languages. In 2019, The Lean Six Sigma Company entered Sri Lanka and set up operations as a base to expand into Asia.
In Sri Lanka, we conduct training in both physical and online classroom settings using the latest software tools with simulation-based advanced teaching techniques and case studies to give our students the best learning experience.
There are other training providers, but there are several reasons why The Six Sigma Company stands out. First, our trainers have years of in-depth experience across major global industries. Second, we provide individual project coaching to our students to drive Lean Six Sigma projects in their companies as part of the program. All our training materials and simulation exercises are developed directly from the Netherlands according to global standards and best practices. Third, our students in Asia have the advantage of acquiring a reputed qualification in high demand globally at a fraction of the cost in developed markets.
What is the boldest decision you have had to make?
We left senior management roles at leading corporations to start The Lean Six Sigma Company in Sri Lanka. It was a risk, but we both savoured the challenge to make a difference in the country and the region. We were excited to be a part of a leading global knowledge firm, The Lean Six Sigma Company, and the opportunity to drive its growth strategy in Asia out of Sri Lanka.
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted economies and businesses everywhere. By quickly shifting all our courses online, launching digital marketing campaigns, and making fees affordable, we now see growth coming from the Asian region.
We are encouraged that the very concept of Lean Six Sigma is about surviving, turning around, and coming out of a crisis stronger. In Sri Lanka, most people associate Lean Six Sigma with apparel manufacturing, but we are breaking these perceptions. Apart from the apparel sector, we do see interest from companies in the banking, construction, healthcare, and hospitality sectors. Some public sector organisations and academia have also reached out to us, and this is indeed encouraging.
However, we do see more companies in other parts of the region investing in our Lean Six Sigma programmes because they want to emerge out of the pandemic faster with improved growth prospects. After all, Lean Six Sigma is proven to considerably increase ROIs for businesses across multiple industries in both manufacturing and services.