These lunch boxes are delivered exactly at 12.30 PM on every working day without fail, despite hurdles during the monsoon season or a strike announcement made by a political party. Again, in the evening the empty container's are collected from offices and delivered back to homes before 5.00 PM for another round of journey the next day morning. On an average, every tiffin box changes hands four times and travels 60-70 kilometers in its journey to reach its eventual destination!
Can you believe that, more than 200,000 lunch boxes are transported to and fro every day ( i.e, 400,000 transactions every day ) by a dabbawala force of about 5000 people. What's stunning is the fact that in this delivery of 200,000 lunch boxes everyday, there is only one mistake in every 16 million deliveries which makes a Six Sigma performance of 99.9999!
I guess in today's globalization that boasts of modern transport system, this unique human feat of delivering lunch boxes, using a non-polluting and cost-effective primitive mode of transport like bicycles and pullers of wooden carts, is unparalleled anywhere in the world.
The Dabbawalas are semi-literate, but their efficient delivery and time management skills would shame our professionally managed corporates. The American business magazine 'Forbes' has given a six-sigma performance rating to them. The dabbawalas were also featured in a 'BBC' documentary, 'Ripley's Believe it or not' and mentioned in the 'Guinness World Records'. The Harvard and IIM students have been learning about them in case studies.
The Dabbawalas achieved worldwide fame when Prince Charles, during one of his visits to Mumbai, paid a special visit to them and had shown keen interest in how they worked. He was so impressed with them that later, during his wedding, he extended an invitation to these Dabbawalas!
The Dabbawala story is an inspiring success story and demonstrates that simple ideas, when executed with discipline and dedication, can bring amazing results at the base of the pyramid. I believe, "Mumbai's Dabbawala's are providing lessons to Corporate India on Leadership, Honesty & Integrity, Team Work , Supply Chain Management and Time Management. And above all it is a classic example of how sustained success can lead to fame.
I keep thinking, is it not strange that though the Mumbai Dubbawalas have been operating since 1890 and it is only recently that we have noticed them? Where ever and whenever I have told this story, it has aroused tremendous interest. The general pattern of the listener was to see the applicability of this model to individual and company situations.
Friends it's time for us to look around and discover many noble souls like the Mumbai Dubbawalas. These souls may not have received the limelight yet, but continue to carry out their work quietly. If we develop a keen eye to notice positives, we can achieve success in every endeavor. So, let's begin fishing for goodness - starting today. If we apply our mind to this, I am sure we will be able to gain much more than what we could. Do share your experiences with me on reading about Mumbai Dubbawalas.