A Session with Mumbai’s Dabbawalas!

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Meeting Masters Of Supply Chain Management

The Siliguri chapter of CII’s Young Indians group organized a special interactive session with Mumbai’s Dabbawalas on the 19th of September. The event was a great success as several business enthusiasts and entrepreneurs attended the programme and learnt all about the practical wisdom and skills of Mumbai Dabbawalas and their day-to-day experiences in Mumbai streets. Indeed, the Dabbawalas have rich heritage of 125 years and have been appreciated across the business world.

The main speaker on the occasion was Dr Pawan G. Agarawal who has even written a book on the Dabbawala’s highly acclaimed supply chain management skills. In the book titled “Masters of Suply Chain Management”, Dr Agrawal writes:

“Mumbai Dabbawala organisation is one of the largest networking systems, where lakhs of transactions takes place everyday and that too, without any mistake. They provide their services to their customers and deliver their lunchboxes in the hands of customers just in time, exactly at their lunch time. Dabbawallas manage to perform lakhs of tramnsactions everyday without any mistake and at minimum possible expenses.Thus it adds to the profit of the organisation.”

In fact, the team of nearly 5000 highly dedicated and committed lunch box (or dabbas) delivery team deliver around 200000 lunch boxes to the work places of office/factory workers in the afternoon and return the empty boxes in the evening. They do the work with amazing skill and precision with the error rate being one in eight million.

All those present in the programme had a chance to interact with the Dabbawalas and learn about their unique management skills. Truly, it was a great occasion for all. We urge the Dabbawalas to keep on with their great work and prove that even without knowledge of complex management theories and practices it is possible to deliver high business performance with natural skills and down-to-earth common-sense. This is the greatest contribution of Mumbai’s Dabbawalas!

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