Mumbai Dabbawala

All of us are pretty aware about Mumbai Dabbawalas, who made their presence felt worldwide when Prince Charles of Britain came to India in 1980s . He was enamoured seeing the work excellence shown by the semi literate dabbawalas who flawlessly delivered food tiffins across the Mumbai offices. They were rated six sigma, what known MNCs rarely achieved. Lots of management case studies were written on Mumbai dabbawalas to benefit the budding managers. The curiosity lies in knowing their work culture and less dependency on modern technology. The Mumbai dabbawalas are mostly from local Mumbai region, who are quite familiar with the Mumbai geography and culture. Presently there are about 5000 dabbawala are catering to the needs of over ,00,000 customers on regular basis. Their basic task starts in the morning at 8am, when they start collecting food tiffins from the specified regions and bring them on their bicycles to the nearest railway station. Here sorting of dabbas takes place. The mukadams help them in supervising the task. Each dabba, which is round shaped, has a code number placed on top that indicates the place of origin and destination of the dabba besides the two dabbawalas who are going to pick and drop finally. Each dabba passes through minimum four sets of people while reaching to the destination and similarly returns back to the house while being handled by minimum four sets of people. For sake of consvenience, entire Mumbai is divided into four hubs for sorting purposes and each railway station has its unique code. The main challenge is to reach dabba before lunch time ie 12:30pm and return it back to place of its origin by 4pm every day. There are very nominal charges for delivering the dabbas and no charge when delivery not required. On an average,8,00,000 transactions takes place by 5000 dabbawalas but rarely a defect is found in terms of failed delivery or a dabba reaches to wrong destination. Six sigma denotes 3.4 defects per million that is 3.4 failed delivery per 10 lakh transactions. Mumbai Dabbawalas have become a role model for corporate houses. Also, there is social security for each dabbawala and they faue froce no threat from modern fast food companies.Our modern managers can take a lot of cue from them.