Thursday, 30 January 2014

Mumbai Dabbawalas: Super Heroes of the city

Mumbai is known as the city of dreams and as a city that never sleeps. So a city that never sleeps how can that city be hungry. To save the day and feed the hungry mouths, the city has its own heroes called the Dabbawalas.

I once got the opportunity to attend an event based on food/tiffin services in Mumbai. My first impression was "What am I doing here hearing presentations on tiffin services in Mumbai, catering in Mumbai, etc." My friend was about to get my piece of mind for making me attend the event on a weekend, but the best part of the event was saved for the last.

It was a talk to be given by the city's Dabbawalas and Dabba service providers. It was one great talk that gave me better insights of management. The presentation given by the Dabbawalas were as good as any other management forum.

The presenter in the beginning gave a small introduction about who they are and what they do. The Mumbai Dabbawalas are a unit of 5000 self employed people who deliver tiffin services/ Lunch boxes delivery across the length mid breadth of the city. Seems like an easy job but it takes immense management skills, reliability and accuracy.

I was surprised it know that the city's Dabbawalas have acquired an ISO certification and also a six sigma certification. 'These certifications are one of the most coveted ones which otganisations strive hard to acquire. Out of the 5000 Dabbawalas, approximately 85% are illiterate and the remaining were not even able to complete college.

I was astonish to know while the presentation was on that these Dabbawalas on a daily basis do 2 lac lunch box deliveries across the city. They also have an accuracy rate of 99.99%. In other words, I out of a million tiffin services has a possibility of getting wrongly delivered.

The presentation by the Dabbawalas team taught me a very important lesson of management. Keep your business simple, appoint people with dedication towards work, make the business people centric and not process centric and finally have the willingness to learn more through your work.


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