India’s Dabbawalas: Low-Tech Role Models for Business

Reading Time: 1 min 

Topics

Like what you're reading?
Join our community
Member
Free

5 Free Articles per month, $6.95/article thereafter. Free newsletter.

Subscribe
$89 $44/Year

Unlimited digital content, quaterly magazine, free newsletter, entire archive.

Sign me up

Inspiration for managers can come from unlikely places — including members of a meal-delivery collective in Mumbai, India, known as dabbawalas

The Economist reports how management gurus have become increasingly impressed with the dabbawalas’ ability to deliver more than 170,000 meals to individuals each day — with a very low error rate, despite a low-tech delivery system. Among much other recognition, Paul Goodman, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon’s Tepper School of Business, has produced a documentary about dabbawalas, and Harvard Business School has published a case about them. 

Factors that have been cited as key to the dabbawalas’ success range from a team-based organizational structure, an effective logistics system using color coding, an emphasis on careful time management — and the use of Mumbai’s reliable suburban rail system.

Another unusual aspect of the dabbawala management system: the organization advertises that it will help other companies recruit its employees to better jobs — but every departing dabbawala is committed to finding a replacement before leaving.

For more on the idea that smart organizations may sometimes take a non-adversarial approach to employee departures, see the article “Rethinking the ‘War for Talent'” in the Summer 2008 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review.

Read the Full Article

Topics

More Like This

Add a comment

You must to post a comment.

First time here? Sign up for a free account: Comment on articles and get access to many more articles.