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Mumbai Dabbawallahs at IIM Kozhikode

Mumbai Dabbawallahs left an everlasting impact on the budding managers, during their two-days visit to Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode. They addressed students in the annual operation seminar, OPUS 2006 at IIM-K held on November 25 and 26, 2006.

This year, the theme for the event was ‘India Inc: From Sustenance to Operational Excellence’. Also, the theme attracted a wide range of speakers taken from Mumbai dabbawallahs to Supply chain experts. Erudite knowledge off the Dabbawallahs in their typical Mumbaya accent remained the highlight of the event.

“Management gurus say that our logistics is perfect but we really don’t know any management lesson. All we know is that consequences of errors are adverse to our customers and we strive to minimize them,” said Gangaram Talekar, secretary of Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, also popularly known as the Dabbawallahs.

The 5000 strong Dabbawallahs deliver over 2 lakh Tiffin boxes everyday in Mumbai city and achieved Six Sigma certification in 2001. Every day, in a span of just 3 hours from morning 9 AM to 12 Noon, the Dabbawallahs make sure that they pick up all the lunch boxes from different homes and deliver them to the rightful owners in the offices. Each Tiffin box is coded in such a way that in spite of changing hands 4 to 6 times a day, it doesn’t get lost in the way or end up with the wrong person.

“Our quality, customer care and supply chain are excellent. We have 99.999999 per cent performance and 100 per cent customer satisfaction,” said Raghunath Megde, president of the Dabbawallahs. It is the discipline and the organizational setup that sets apart the Dabbawallahs. The veterans guide the new entrants to the field. For every 20 Dabbawallahs, there are 3 substitutes to take care of exigencies and support the novices. Caps and ID cards are used to identify each other and to reduce the wait time at offices while checking in and checking out. “For us work is worship and customer is our god,” said Talekar. Dabbawallahs follow this simple maxim religiously, and no wonder they are the most efficient network in India.

Other speakers included Pradeep Jadav, manager of Chainalytics who said Supply chain management (SCM) should be in sync with overall business strategy. Samir Shukla Senior Manager, Bristlecone organized a workshop on supply chain opportunity assessment, which delved into the essentials of Supply Chain Operations Reference Model (SCOR). SCOR is a process reference model that provides readymade key performance indicators (KPIs) to evaluate and assess the supply chain of an organization.

Mr. Syed Haq, Senior Project Manager, Miebach Logistics, took the audience through a derivation of the reasons, which made Supply Chain Management so crucial in the industry. Mr. Rakesh Rajora (VP, Operational Excellence Lead at Accenture) concluded the day by captivating the audience with amazing insights into the world of operational efficiency. He dwelt at length on how cost, quality, delivery and service can be the four vectors of value addition and how 6 sigma practices are catering to these. ”Thinking out of the box is what excellence is all about” and coming up with of ‘little sparks of innovations’, were according to him the key to operational excellence.

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