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Dabbawalas: Delivery Excellence

Posted by Sean Doherty on

Dabbawala22In 2010, Harvard Business School’s Stefan Thomke and Mina Sinha chose to study India’s dabbawalas.

What are dabbawalas, you ask? The literal translation is “lunch carriers,” who bring over 200,000 home-cooked meals to the hungry workforces of Mumbai and then back home. What makes them extraordinary enough to garner Harvard’s interest? Besides the fact that a wife can cook her husband a meal that is delivered hot from her kitchen, they boast an error rate of 1 per every 16 million transactions.

While it is very difficult to verify the accuracy of such claim, that error rate is far better Six Sigma accuracy. Actually, it is about 50 times better. Six Sigma accuracy states that a process must not produce more than 3.4 defects per million opportunities.

No matter the actual error rate, this is a tremendous business feat that is accomplished with no technology and 5,000 workers of whom a majority can’t read.

Impressive. Read More…

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