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Mumbai’s Models of Service Excellence

  • Stefan Thomke

What the city’s dabbawalas can teach your company about quality

Reprint: R1211K

Think you need exceptional employees, advanced IT, or rigid controls to build a high-performance organization? The dabbawalas of Mumbai prove otherwise. Six days a week, these 5,000 self-managed, semi-literate workers deliver upwards of 130,000 lunches from customers’ homes to their offices with astonishing precision—negotiating the crowded city by train, bicycle, and handcart, without the aid of any technology or even cell phones. The 100-year-old service is legendary for its reliability: Despite monsoons, floods, riots, and terrorist attacks, mistakes by the dabbawalas are extremely rare.

Thomke, an HBS professor, studied the dabbawalas to find the keys to their success. He uncovered a unique system with four pillars: organization, management, process, and culture. A flat structure, consisting of autonomous units of 25 people each, is well suited to providing low-cost service. The tight schedule of the train lines over which meals are ferried regulates everyone’s work. Buffer capacity is built in to address extremely thin margins of error; each unit has extra workers who fill in wherever they are needed, and members are cross-trained in all activities. Variations that might derail the works are discouraged; the lunchboxes used, for instance, are all a standard size. A simple coding system helps workers quickly sort lunches and get them where they need to go. And democratic decision making and deep emotional bonds among workers promote a high degree of cooperation.

The dabbawalas show that with the right system, even ordinary workers can achieve the extraordinary.

In July 2005, Mumbai was battered by unusually heavy monsoon rains. In just 12 hours, more than 25 inches deluged India’s business capital. That, combined with record high tides, wreaked widespread havoc, bringing the city to a virtual standstill. As the water rose waist-high in many areas, people found themselves stranded at railway stations, in trains, and on roads and sidewalks.

dabbawala harvard case study ppt

  • Stefan Thomke is the William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is a leading authority on the management of business experimentation and innovation and has worked with many global companies on product, process, and technology development. He is the author of Experimentation Works: The Surprising Power of Business Experiments (HBR Press, 2020).

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  • October 2012 (Revised September 2013)
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The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

  • Format: Print
  • | Language: English
  • | Pages: 13

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dabbawala harvard case study ppt

Stefan H. Thomke

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  • The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time  By: Stefan H. Thomke

Inside the Case: The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

Featuring: Stefan Thomke, Mona Sinha

The Inside the Case: The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time video offers behind-the-scenes insights on teaching the case from coauthor Stefan Thomke. He discusses the case's learning objectives, provides introductory and discussion questions that have worked well for him, offers suggestions for teaching the case online, and shares memorable moments of teaching this case with students.

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dabbawala harvard case study ppt

The Economic Times

How Harvard professors are mining India for management lessons

How Harvard professors are mining India for lessons in management

How Harvard professors are mining India for lessons in management

By Nikhil Menon, ET Bureau From the logistics of Dabbawalas to the redevelopment of Dharavi, Harvard professors are mining the country for lessons in management. The sight turned quite a few heads on Mumbai's suburban railway network. Long used to ignoring everything in their antlike frenzy, commuters who saw a dapper-looking foreigner gingerly alighting from a local train in the company of a bunch of dabbawalas couldn’t help but pause for a while. But if they were puzzled, Stefan H Thomke, William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS), was astonished-and getting more so by the second. A regular visitor to India for a quarter of a century, Thomke had first read about the dabbawalas in a magazine in his hotel room. He says, "I immediately asked myself: how could an organisation with so few resources, technology and management knowhow achieve such high-delivery performance? When I came back to Boston, I researched the organisation and found more questions than answers." In Pic: Professor John Macomber, co-author of the case study on Dharavi, on a Mumbai street.

'The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time'

'The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time'

In February 2010, HBS published his observations in the form of a case study, entitled 'The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time'. One of the most authoritative analyses of the dabbawala community and the environment they operate in, the case study has since been debated and discussed extensively in classrooms as well as in Harvard's management development programmes . "It seemed like a fascinating and unusual setting that is unique to India but with potentially powerful lessons for the world," says Thomke. "People with average skills and education can do extraordinary things. Perhaps there is a bigger lesson here. India has many people, but are all of them being used to their full potential?" Thomke isn't the first Harvard professor to evince an interest in the great Indian growth story. From Jamnalal Bajaj and Mahatma Gandhi to Infosys and the Indian railways to SBI, India teems with countless examples of resourcefulness and stories of ingenuity in the face of serious challenges. For an academic, particularly , from one of the world's bestknown business schools, India provides a virtual goldmine of case studies. In Pic: A worker polishes a kitchen cooking stove at a small-scale stove making factory at Dharavi, one of the world's largest shantytowns, in Mumbai, India on Friday, June 10, 2011. (Image: AP)

Setting of India Research Center was a significant step by Harvard

Setting of India Research Center was a significant step by Harvard

Harvard's India connection has been growing steadily over the years. In recent times, the School has begun running full-fledged management development programmes (MDPs) in India for future leaders. Professors from top Indian B-schools are also becoming regulars at Harvard's Global Colloquium on Participant-Centered Learning, held in Boston. But arguably one of the most significant steps taken to boost this mutual relationship was the establishment of an India Research Center (IRC) in 2006. The Center, one of seven worldwide , is designed to run like an Embassy , through which Harvard will 'share the best of Harvard with India and vice versa'. One of the Center's main objectives is to support and guide members of Harvard's faculty who routinely visit India on research projects that culminate in case studies. These case studies, says HBS Dean Nitin Nohria, enable the school to share Indian knowledge with the rest of the world. "We know that we could never possibly scale to meet the growing demand for what we do and we don't aspire to take the place of business schools in India or elsewhere ," he says. In Pic: A boy carries his two-year-old brother through a flooded pathway in a Mumbai slum on June 6, 2011. (Image: REUTERS)

Most Harvard case studies from South Asia are India-centric

Most Harvard case studies from South Asia are India-centric

"So we have chosen instead to go where the knowledge is, to study it first-hand and then share it with the world through our publishing and teaching. Our research centers in various parts of the world, including India , help us to build relationships with business leaders in those regions to facilitate the writing of cases and other research." According to Anjali Raina, executive director of the IRC, as many as 80 of the 120-plus recently documented Harvard case studies from South Asia, are India-centric . "There is a tremendous amount of knowledge lying across the three spheres of business, society and government. HBS researchers are actively studying all three individually, as well as cases that lie within the interaction of multiple spheres," she says. One such example is Dharavi, Asia's largest slum and home to an indigenous economy all its own. The redevelopment of Dharavi is fraught with politicial, social and financial repercussions. Yet, it is a necessity for a growing economy like India to provide a better quality of life to Dharavi's residents. In Pic: High rise residential buildings are seen behind a slum in Mumbai on July 20, 2010. (Image: REUTERS)

Dharavi is a very complex place

Dharavi is a very complex place

Lakshmi Iyer, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard's Business, Government and the International Economy Unit, co-authored a study along with Professor John Macomber and Namrata Arora, entitled 'Dharavi : Developing Asia's Largest Slum'. Written in the year that ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ swept the Oscars, the case uses imagery and even the occasional quote from the movie. It tracks a real estate developer's journey, negotiating the various risks and questions that inevitably arise during redevelopment. Add to that the fact that Dharavi is a very complex place with different communities that have strong personal views on redevelopment and it becomes a perfect candidate for a case study for the world's brightest minds. Macomber has used the case in three different courses - finance, infrastructure , sustainable cities - and it's been a hit every time, provoking extensive discussion . "The case is about entrepreneurship and large-scale investment. It deals with finance, risk management, sensitivity analysis, supply chains, organisational behaviour and all the other things you learn in business school," he says. In Pic: In this photo taken December 18, 2009, a boy stands amid plastic waste from a plastic bottle recycling plant at a slum area in Mumbai, India. (Image: AP)

Growth of middle class draws an academician's   interest

Growth of middle class draws an academician's interest

Lakshmi Iyer says there are two principal reasons for India being of major interest from an academician's standpoint: one, the high economic growth rates recorded over the past two decades and the growth of a significant middle class and two, the opening up of the economy, which means that more and more global firms have a presence in India now. "For both these reasons, it is important for our students and MDP participants to understand how business works in India," she adds. If Dharavi and Slumdog Millionaire generated widespread interest in India's growth, the terror attacks of November 2008 were a grim reminder of its vulnerability. The Taj Mahal hotel at Apollo Bunder in Mumbai has long been one of the city's most iconic symbols for Indians and foreigners alike. But on 26th November 2008, it was thrust into the middle of India's worst terrorist attack, as armed terrorists forced their way inside, gunning down scores of innocents and engaging security forces for over two days. In Pic: In this October 19, 2010 photo, a boy flies a kite in a shanty town in Mumbai, India.(Image: AP)

Employees at the Taj instinctively did a right thing during Mumbai attacks

Employees at the Taj instinctively did a right thing during Mumbai attacks

The events that followed are known to most people. What could have been a human and public relations catastrophe became a story of resilience and courage that will be retold many times over. It also became a Harvard case study. Rohit Deshpande, Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing and Faculty Chair, Global Colloquium for Participant-Centered Learning, calls the Taj incident 'the most important example of customercentric leadership from below I have ever seen' . He says employees at the Taj individually, and without prior training in anti-terrorism measures, instinctively 'did the right thing.' "The telephone operators stayed on the job despite the end of their shifts and being told to go home. Instead, they instructed guests to turn off room lights, take key cards out of room doors, lock rooms, turn off lights, and not use their mobiles. The kitchen staff formed a human chain to protect guests from bullets and led them down secret kitchen passages and out to safety," says Deshpande.

The case explored factors for a customer-centric organisation

The case explored factors for a customer-centric organisation

Apart from telling the story of employee bravery and initiative, the case also explored the factors that go into building a customer-centric organisation, starting with recruiting, training, and rewarding employees and the role of corporate culture (in this case not only of Taj Hotels but of the Tata Group) and what it takes to rebuild a distinguished, centuryold flagship brand. And rebuild, the group did. Today , heads of state and business leaders heading to Mumbai want to stay at the Taj, a symbol of resistance against terror. Interestingly, the Taj terror case study was not planned, and Deshpande was originally planning to do a study on the hotel's changing brand architecture , which was also released in September 2010. Raina of IRC says that over the years, the subjects being chosen for research by HBS researchers have seen a gradual shift from FMCG and marketing to other subjects. "These include sustainability , finance, urbanisation , sustainability , good governance and HR," she explains.

Accessibility of oranised data is research-related challenge

Accessibility of oranised data is research-related challenge

The richness of data available in the country has tremendously fascinated academicians and Indophiles alike. However, Raina admits that this data is not always readily accessible. "The data's there, but it needs to be leveraged better," she says, "Sometimes you don't know who the right contact person is, and how to contact him or her. Then the data may not be available in the right format, or may not be readily accessible or organised. This is one of the research-related challenges." But Thomke was never fazed by these challenges, since all along he had been looking for interesting case studies that were unique to India and, at the same time, had 'broad global appeal' . These included the first case, about the dabbawalas of Mumbai, and a second one titled 'Innovation at Mahindra & Mahindra' , which is about the role of maverick innovators in organisations and the tension between structured and informal management processes.

India's big challenge is to supplement world-class education

India's big challenge is to supplement world-class education

The case speaks about Mahindra & Mahindra's efforts to build a revolutionary new tractor, which encounters numerous problems and setbacks. Thomke recalls encountering employees who were 'hungry for knowledge' and had some pretty impressive suggestions. But despite this, he adds that India's next big challenge is to supplement the world-class education being offered at its premier institutions with a focus on training the 'other 99% of the population' , particularly in vocational skills so as to maximise India's human capital advantage. His observations are being echoed in India's corridors of power. However, one thing seems certain: whatever India does, it will be in its own unique way. And the world will be watching and taking notes.

The Economic Times

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The Business Rule

Dabbawala Case Study: How Mumbai Thrives On This Model?

Aashita Singh

Updated on: March 22, 2024

Dabbawala Case Study

Mumbai dabbawala service has made it easy for the people to have and enjoy freshly home cooked meals either at their offices or other working places.

This service has led many people who hail from different parts of the country come to Mumbai to work and live, to have a meal which is home cooked and healthy.

Dabbawala Case Study

Let’s start with our discussion of the Mumbai Dabbawala Case Study and how Mumbai has been living on this model since decades! 

(A) Mumbai Dabbawala Profile 

Mumbai Dabbawala or the name by which is famously called, “The Dabba Service” started from the late 1800s i.e. 1890, serves freshly cooked meals to people either from their homes or from the dabba service places. 

The Dabbawala service was initially started by Mahadeo Havaji Bachche in 1890 as a small business, and now has become one of the world recognized businesses. 

Apart from being a prominent dabba service in Mumbai, it also offers various services and facilities like, Ted talk in various business schools, seminars, lectures, a day with dabbawala, app service, etc. all the factors which contributes to its key position as the leading player in the dabba service in Mumbai. 

Dabbawala service

Beyond all this, Mumbai dabbawala has been awarded with various recognition like the Six Sigma.

That narrates the tale of Mumbai Dabbawala of not only showcasing an unparalleled service but have also earned their place in the global standards of operational efficiency by achieving Six Sigma certification, which translates to an error ration of just 1 in 16 million, or simply translated as a single error in 1,60,00,000 lunch boxes.

(B) Dabbawala Business Model 

The business model used by Dabbawala is a blend of simplicity, user-centric approach, efficiency, and dedication. The dabbawalas work on a single aim, i.e. to serve the people and the society with their best services. 

The Mumbai Dabbawala service operates their business mainly on four pillars, i.e. organization, management, process, and culture. 

The above four principles are core elements of the Dabbawala Service, which has been crucial for the business which has been opening for many years now. 

(B.1) How Did the Idea of Dabbawala Originated? 

Around 130 years ago, a Parsi Banker working in Fort Branch only wanted to have his home cooked meal in his office. For that he hired a young man named Mahadeo Havaji Bacche, who would daily get his lunch from his home in the afternoon.

That is how the concept and the first dabbawala emerged. 

Concept of Mumbai Dabbawala

With time, with the vision and hard work of Mahadeo Havaji Bacche, the business started growing and thriving in the city and has a large workforce to operate. 

(B.2) How did this business become an exception?

  • The dabbawala service delivers over 2,00,000 tiffins on a daily basis from their homes or dabba service to their offices. 
  • It delivers all its services and transactions in almost 6 hours, six days a week, before lunch time, without any mistakes.
  • All this success has been achieved by Dabbawalas without the intervention of any technological tool at low cost and in an eco-friendly manner.
  • Later on, they have made their own app for catering to more people and offering more services. 

Mumbai Dabbawala business

  • It has been awarded with the title of “ Six Sigma” from the study conducted by the Harvard Business School, which means that the dabbawalas made less than 3.4 errors per million transactions.
  • Mumbai Dabbawalas have employed around 5,000 people for delivering its services, and many of them are less educated, or have not appropriate reading knowledge, but they operate efficiently and provide their best services. 
  • A force of hardworking people has led them to achieve this success and become a prominent name all over the world. 
  • The Mumbai Dabbawalas were also visited by Mr. Richard Branson, a british entrepreneur and adventurer and Prince Charles during his visit to India.

(B.3) Major Events of Mumbai Dabbawalas  

(c) marketing mix strategy .

One of the key factors of Dabbawala case study is the marketing mix which it has been following for years. The dabbawala operates on 6 P’s of marketing mix, which is Product, Place, Price, Promotion, and People. 

(C.1) Product 

The primary service of the Dabbawala is to provide the freshly home cooked meal lunch boxes from the customer’s home and deliver them at their offices. Along with that they also collect their tiffin boxes after lunch and deliver them back to their home. 

With that they also offer advertising facilities with them, workshops, seminars, and more of it. 

(C.2) Place

Mumbai Dabbawala, an Indian business organization, primarily operates its services in Mumbai. The dabbawalas also take their service orders through SMSs. It has a wide distribution network and a workforce of nearly 5,000 workers.

Dabbawala services

(C.3) Price 

Mumbai Dabbawala has a turnover of around Rs.36 crores annually, and its services cost within a range of Rs.300 to 1,000.  The affordable pricing for its services, the annual subscription model for payments, the uniform pricing strategy, no hidden costs, all contribute to an easy marketing mix. 

(C.4) Promotion  

The organization that has been operating from decades now has been well famous and a prominent name in the city Mumbai. They have mostly adopted the mouth publicity for their business.

They rely on their exceptional service model and quality assurance of operations. Many production houses, companies, promote their messages and movies through dabbawala. 

(C.5) People 

The success and growth of Mumbai Dabbawala largely depends on the people it serves. They are the backbone and the key elements of the entire operation of Dabbawalas. The business has high skilled workers, teamwork, coordination, training, and has good customer relations. 

(D) Unique Coding System 

Instead of putting names for different stations, tiffin deliveries, office place, etc. they have a unique full proof coding system of delivering dabbas. Some of them are- 

Let’s have a look at the other factors constituting the Mumbai Dabbawala case study!

(E) Other Factors Analysis 

Above were some other factors which contributed to its growth and overall success over the years. It’s a mix of its teamwork, coordination, delivery systems, returning facility, coding system. 

Over the years, the Mumbai Dabbawala has kept their services simple and unique. With time they have developed their own app and site which has helped to connect to more customers and make a more simplified process. 

Summing Up: The Dabbawala Case Study

The Mumbai Dabbawala Service , one of the most famous things of Mumbai. The dabbawala service that has been operating and providing its best services to the people since 1890, is one of most anticipated case studies to look at. 

Note: We do have case studies of other famous names like

  • Taj Mahal Case Study ,
  • Zara Case Study ,
  • Starbucks Case Study ,

Be it providing the on time tiffin delivery service, doing seminars, unique coding system of tiffin’s, exceptional service over the years, delivering ted talks, etc. all constitute as the major key elements of the dabbawala case study. 

Mumbai Dabbawala service believes in the simple working techniques which offers high quality in low prices. 

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Most of their workers are illiterate and the last major upgrade the 125 year-old organisation made to its delivery chain was the bicycle. Yet the Mumbai dabbawalas deliver and return 130,000 dabbas, or tiffins, every day. According to Forbes magazine, they have a Six Sigma rating of 99.999999, which means less than one out of every six million deliveries goes amiss.

Since the publication of the article in Forbes in 1998, the dabbawalas have been the darlings of the international media scene. They have been visited by Prince Charles and Richard Branson, who worked as a dabbawala for a day. They have also been studied by management schools around the world, all keen to learn just how they do it.

College-educated Manish had heard of the dabbawalas, following the excitement of Prince Charles’s visit in 2003. He saw that the semi-literate organisation did not understand how to use the opportunities that were coming their way.

“I saw I could make a big difference to the organisation. I first joined as a dabbawala, but now because I can make more money for the organisation, I spend most of my time travelling and speaking,” said Manish, who was in Kuala Lumpur three months ago to speak on “Inspiring Innovators”, a talk organised by the local office of international express delivery company TNT Express Worldwide (M) Sdn Bhd and ADOI magazine.

The lecture circuit has also taken Manish to Fortune 500 companies around the globe, as well as to Wharton and Stanford.

He is still bemused by the interest shown by the “MBAs”, as he calls them.

“Most of our members cannot read! Yet we’re constantly studied by the MBAs. Truth is, our members are suitably educated for their profession. We couldn’t employ MBAs; they’d ask too many questions,” he laughs.

Academic interest in the dabbawalas continues unabated. Earlier last year, Harvard Business School introduced its case study titled “The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time” as part of its MBA curriculum.

“It is very different from the organisations that our students study every day. It challenges their assumptions about the drivers of performance. It also inspires. The Dabbawala system works because of its people, not because of technology or sophisticated management,” says Stefan Thomke, co-author of the case study and William Barclay Harding Professor of Business Administration at Harvard, in an email interview in December.

Thomke’s interest in the Dabbawalas started two years ago while he was in Mumbai working on another case study.

“I found a brief mention of the Dabbawala organisation while reading in my hotel room. I got interested because of the intellectual puzzle: ‘How can an organisation with no technology, no sophisticated logistics management system, and people with little education achieve such high-delivery performance — in a fast-moving city that can be very chaotic?’ ” he says.

Working with Mona Srivastava, a research associate at the HBS India Research Centre, Thomke compiled the case study over a period of six months, travelling between Boston and Mumbai.

Initially, Thomke assumed that the secret was in the operating system, in the way the Dabbawalas managed material and information flows.

“But it turns out that much of their success can be attributed to their human resource system — the way they hire, develop, manage and reward people. It’s an organisation built around people, not around technology,” says Thomke. “I wish that I could take all of our MBA students to Mumbai so they can see the system. Reading and discussing the case study in our classroom is the next best thing. Last time we taught the case, we had a live video conference with DWs (Boston-Mumbai) and students were able to ask questions.”

Gerry Powers, managing director for TNT Malaysia, confessed that he was both humbled and inspired by Manish’s talk at the TNT office in Menara PKNS.

“Technology is a wonderful thing but,  sometimes, I do wonder if we overcomplicate things,” says Powers.

TNT Worldwide itself was started by one man — Ken Thomas and his truck. Today, the global company employs over 75,000 people operating 26,000 road vehicles and 47 jet freighter aircraft across 200 countries.

“We have to remember that we are basically a people business and should not let bureaucracy make us difficult to deal with in any way. If you take care of your people, they will drive the service, drive growth and benefit the customers. So if my employees are not happy, I am nothing,” says Powers.

“Our dabbawalas view their work as worship. They are grateful to have work, and to serve others by delivering food is to serve God,” he says.

Harvard’s case study outlines one shining example of the commitment shown by the dabbawalas. In July 2005, unusually heavy monsoon rains, combined with record high tides, flooded Mumbai. Like their customers, many of the dabbawalas were stranded in trains, at railway stations and sidewalks for two days. Raghunath Medge, president of the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association (one of the Mumbai Dabbawalas’ two governing committees), was trapped on a train with 10 other dabbawalas returning with empty dabbas. He recalled thinking, “We can’t leave without the dabbas and we can’t avoid the ditches and potholes while wading through the water.” Nevertheless, on the second day, even before the city recovered, the dabbawalas waded through waist-high water and delivered the dabbas back home.

“Everyone in Mumbai recognises the white Gandhi cap worn by our dabbawalas and they respect us for the work we do. They also know not to stand in our way!” says Manish, doffing his own. “In the mornings, when the dabbawalas collect the dabbas (around 9am), if the housewife is late with the dabba for more than a week, we will stop serving them. We are not going to let thousands suffer, waiting for their lunches, because one person was late. As a result, it’s said that the housewives of Mumbai are more afraid of the dabbawalas than they are of their husbands!”

The dabawallas’ dedication to their duty was observed firsthand by Prince Charles when he asked to meet with them in 2003. In response to his invitation for the dabbawalas to meet with him at his hotel, the dabbawalas replied: “Dear Prince Charles, we are unable to meet with you at your hotel as we will be delivering tiffins. However, if you will come to the train station at 10am, we will be sorting the tiffins and will be able to meet you then,” recites Manish.

The prince did indeed meet the dabbawalas at the Western Railway Headquarters opposite Churchgate station in south Mumbai, where he received a white Gandhi cap.

The universal respect they have gained enables the dabbawalas to take pride in their work despite their low income which averages INR7,000 (RM487) a month. “We don’t pay any salaries. Every single dabbawala is a shareholder and gets an equal share of the income,” says Manish.

The Harvard case study notes that when the dabbawala organisation first started, one dabbawala would be in charge of an area and would hire 15 to 20 delivery boys. But in 1983, the dabbawalas moved to an owner-partner system based on a profit-sharing model. Each area is now run by groups of about 25 members who manage their own finances, customers and operational activities.

“Each dabbawala is capable of collecting up to 20 dabbas a day — but this is the maximum. Usually in a group, each dabbawala will collect less so that, if a dabbawala is sick, the others can compensate. New dabbawalas are hired only to replace a member or when there are too many new customers in an area,” explains Manish.

Turnover for the dabbawalas is nearly non-existent. Members, only four of whom are women, range in age from 18 to 65, with senior members moving on to supervisory roles.

“If a dabbawala wants to leave, he has to find someone else to take his place,” says Manish. New members are recruited only from the 30 or so villages around Pune; many are relatives or friends.

“If someone wants to become a dabbawala, he will be on probation for six months on a salary of INR3,000. After which, if he wants to be a member and the others accept him, he will have to invest 10 times the expected monthly income in the group’s business (for example, if the group’s members earn INR7,000 a month each, the new dabbawala would have to pay INR70,000),” says Manish.

“If you want a dabbawala to come to your house, you ask a friend to tell their dabbawala, or you find a member and tell him. He will then quote a price based on where you live — it’s more expensive if you live far from a train station,” says Manish.  On average, each customer pays around INR300 (RM20.60) a month for the service.

So far, the dabbawala word-of-mouth system is good enough for them, he says. “We don’t have to spend on advertising, we have Prince Charles as our ‘brand ambassador’!” he laughs, adding that the prince’s visit catapulted the organisation to international fame. “Before him, it was just the MBAs.”

If there is one weakness to the dabbawala system, it is its inability to adapt and change in a city that is evolving rapidly. The case study by Harvard noted that over the past 40 years, the number of vehicles in Mumbai had grown from 61,000 vehicles in 1950 to over 1.02 million in 2008. The worsening traffic has made travelling by bicycle and transporting goods by handcart increasingly difficult and dangerous. The increase in traffic also resulted in more road repairs, forcing the dabbawalas to detour — and running or pedalling faster to cope.

The tight schedule the dabbawalas operate on also allows for little variation. When Manish attempted to glean additional revenue by distributing fliers and samples on behalf of corporations, the extra time needed to distribute the samples “threw their system out of gear”, observes the case study. The organisation is also unable to expand out of Mumbai as no other city in India has as comprehensive a railway system.

“The Mumbai dabbawalas will always be in Mumbai,” says Manish.

For now, Manish is trying to connect the dabbawalas with cell phones, thus enabling customers to contact their dabbawala. He’s confident that through sponsorship, the cellphone costs can be managed. But he is encountering resistance.

“My biggest wish is to do more for the organisation, but the members are reluctant to cooperate. For example, a company wanted to donate a large sum to our organisation, but in the end we never received it because our members insisted on the donation being made in cash. They simply cannot understand electronic transactions,” says Manish with a sigh. “But in some ways they are right. It’s the dabbawala himself and his commitment that matters, not the technology or qualifications.”

This article appeared in Management@work, the monthly management pullout of The Edge Malaysia, Issue 839, Jan 3-9, 2011

Copyright © 1999-2023 The Edge Communications Sdn. Bhd. 199301012242 (266980-X). All rights reserved

Streamlyn Academy

Case Study of Popular Mumbai Dabbawala System- 2023

Gateway of India, Haji Ali, Hotel Taj, Colaba Market, Fashion Street , and many more. Most of you must have guessed the city we are discussing.

Yes, you guessed it right.

It’s Mumbai.

But other than these, there is something else that makes Mumbai famous. It’s “Dabbawala.”

Case study of Mumbai Dabbawala

We have heard people saying that Mumbai is a city that does not stop. But similarly, an army of men in the same town does not get tired or stop. Who are they?

They are Mumbai Dabbawalas, also known as Dabbawalas.

If you visit Mumbai, you are bound to notice the Mumbai Dabbawalas. You may not realize this, but the Mumbai Dabbawala is an essential part of the life of Mumbai.

Dabbawalas deliver around 2,00,000 meals daily and have been doing this for 130 years. Within 4 hours, they provide home-cooked meals to offices daily and do all this without using any technology.

Let us look at the Mumbai Dabbawala case study that will help you understand Dabbawala better.

The Invention of Mumbai Dabbawala

Founded in 1890, Mumbai Dabbawalas are the men dressed in traditional white outfits with Gandhi caps delivering home-cooked food to Mumbaikar from home to office daily.

They are a strong army of nearly 5,000 people who ensure that 2,00,000 people get their lunch on time at their offices.

Their work is so efficient that many famous personalities like Richard Bradstone and Prince Charles have visited them.

Moreover, these men in white have given lectures at different business schools. Therefore, they are six sigma compatible.

The service was born out of sheer need.

With so many people belonging to different communities reaching the city of dreams and no fast-food culture being that popular back then, there was a shortage of an adequate food delivery system.

While there was a rising demand, there was a supply of illiterate workers who had traveled to the city after their agriculture business failed to ensure sustenance at home.

With no education to work as clerks in the homes of Britishers but with enough energy to embark on any hard work, the idea of delivering home-cooked food was born.

Thus was the launch of the “Dabba Delivery System” in Mumbai.

How did the Mumbai Dabbawala Emerge?

Nearly 125 years ago, a Parsi banker working in Fort Branch wanted to have home-cooked food in his office. So he appointed a young man who belonged from Gurgaon to get his lunch from his home every afternoon.

It is how the job of 1st Dabbawala emerged.

The Mumbai dabbawalla price was nearly two annas at that time.

Soon, the business started picking up and gaining popularity because of the visionary work of Mahadeo Havaji Bacche, who considered this a golden opportunity and decided to grow it as a business.

What makes Dabbawala exceptional?

The dabbawalas have a fantastic service record. Each day they deliver more than 1,30,000 lunchboxes all over Mumbai, the fourth most populous city in the world.

Case Study of World Famous Mumbai Dabbawala

It means nearly 2,60,000 transactions being done in almost 6 hours every day, six days a week, and 52 weeks a year, without a single mistake.

Surprisingly, the dabbawalas have achieved that level of performance at a low cost, eco-friendly manner, without using any digital or IT platform or even mobile phones.

A study conducted by the Harvard Business School rated it “Six Sigma,” which means that the dabbawalas made less than 3.4 errors per million transactions.

With almost 2,00,000 deliveries six days a week, less than 212 missing or delayed Dabbas in a year.

You must be thinking, how can a poorly educated, decentralized team perform amazingly without errors in such a challenging environment?

The answer is a lesson for those companies who want to grow their business in the market.

The way the Mumbai tiffin wala works is an inspiration for all the organizations that want to grow. Companies that cannot afford to appoint stars depend on ordinary people for support.

The success of dabbawalas proves that with the right system and hardworking workers, we can achieve extraordinary results in no time.

Mumbai Dabbawalas employs around 5,000 people, many of whom have had little education or reading knowledge, but how do they keep the orders intact. First, let’s see how Mumbai Dabbawalas operate.

How do Mumbai Dabbawalas work?

The Dabbawalas run their food delivery service on four fundamental pillars. These are the organization, management process, and culture.

All these four pillars are correctly aligned and mutually supporting. It is uncommon to see such coordination in the corporate world.

dabbawala harvard case study ppt

The Mumbai Suburban Railway, one of the most complex, vast, and mainly used urban commuter lines worldwide, plays a vital role in the Dabbawalas’ operations.

Its basic layout requires delivery people with cycles and handcarts to travel between the railway stations and customers’ offices and homes.

Every day, a Dabba reaches its destination after passing through several hands. In the morning, a dabbawalla picks it up from the customer’s home and goes to the nearest railway station. Then, it is sorted and put on a wooden carte as per its destination.

Once it reaches the nearest station, it is sorted and assigned to another dabbawalla, who delivers it to the office before lunchtime. Once lunchtime is over, the process runs the other way around, and the Dabba reaches the customer’s home.

They use a trick to avoid confusion about which Dabba (the Indian Lunchbox) belongs to. They follow a “coding system.” The lids of the dabbas are labeled with numbers, letters, and symbols indicating where they came and where they should be delivered.

The Mumbai Dabbawalas are famous for their punctuality. Their mission statement since the day they started operation has been “Always deliver on time.”

A supervisory mechanism

The railway system sets the rhythm and pace of delivery. The regular schedule determines the time to complete a task and the time allotted.

Dabbawalas have just 40 seconds to load the crates of Dabbas on a train at essential stations and just 20 seconds at interval stops.

The Dabbawalas manage themselves concerning logistics, hiring, retention, and customer acquisition.

First, however, governing committees fix guidelines for costs, considering factors like the distance between a customer’s house and office and the distance between the office and the nearest railway station.

It helps them operate the service efficiently and keep charges low and the quality high.

Every Dabbawala is an entrepreneur responsible for negotiating prices with his clients. As Dabbawalas own their relationships with clients and tend to work in a similar location for several years, those relationships are usually trustworthy and long-term.

For the Dabbawalas, having the proper procedure signifies much more than just implementing effective workflows. It also involves everything in the organization, including how information is collected, using built-in buffers, and strictly following the standards.

SWOT Analysis

  • Teamwork, honesty, and discipline
  • Ownership, time management
  • Low cost, customer satisfaction
  • A service commitment, process consistency
  • It depends on Mumbai’s local train service
  • Restricted access to education limits

Opportunities

  • Have a tie-up with caterers to serve varieties of food
  • Expanding to other cities
  • Flexible timing
  • During high alerts in the city, Dabbawalas face a lot of issues

Awards & Recognition

  • Shri. Varkari Prabhodhan Mahasmati Dindi Sohala
  • Invitation from CII for conference arranged in Bangalore
  • Documentaries made by UTV, BBC, ZEE TV, and MTV
  • World record in time management

How COVID-19 affected the Dabbawalas

The COVID-19 Pandemic has dealt a cruel blow to the men in white. Thousands of dabbawalas retreated to their original homes in rural locations as the virus raged across Mumbai, a city of over 20 million people, crippling the century-old food supply chain.

Some of them were surviving on state rations and charities. They neither had electricity nor mobile connectivity in their homes.

Till now, the government did not give permission for the dabbawalas to travel in local trains, which makes it difficult for them to reach their final destinations.

Growth of Dabbawalas

However, the world of Dabbawalas is challenging, showing the spirit and grit of Mumbai, a city with millions of people from different parts of the world.

Many dabbawalas have had to overcome challenges like floods and railway strikes. Also, they have had to advance their skills in recent times, like learning to speak English and embracing technology.

In October 2020, an official website for the dabbawalas, digitaldabbawala.com, was launched. It is an official website that includes details of all the delivery organizations.

In November 2020, they launched a Dabbawala app to make food delivery accessible and uncomplicated. The app helps you find food and order food from where you are.

You type an address, and the app tells you the restaurants that can deliver to your area. Also, you can search restaurants by cuisine, menu, and name.

Once you find what you want, you can place your order online without extra charges. The app also offers access to coupons, special deals, and a customer care team with 24/7 assistance.

Soon, the deliverymen started growing their services from delivering lunchboxes to delivery of digital services like electronic registration of marriages and property.

Customers can now place their lunch orders through the website. In addition, they can choose between a monthly or annual subscription for payment.

The dabbawalas partner with 14 local restaurants to deliver food to clients. Recently, they have been encouraging customers to order directly from the hotels and receive nearly 25% discount and free home delivery.

In August 2021, the dabbawalas launched their digital operation known as Central Kitchen, which lets customers place orders for a wide variety of food for delivery.

Case study of Dabbawalas

The idea behind these new creativities is to think outside the box and to expand the Mumbai Dabbawalas business, starting from lunch delivery to a wide range of other services that will help to protect their source of income and trade after the Pandemic is over.

The men in white continue to deliver lunch and protect the future of the world’s oldest and most respected Mumbai dabbawalla system.

The men in white will still be delivering lunch, though, safeguarding the future of one of the world’s oldest and most respected food delivery systems.

The dabbawalas show that an organization doesn’t need extraordinary talent to achieve outstanding performance with the right system.

In today’s modern age, when we are addicted to the latest technologies, the example of Mumbai Dabbawalas shows that sometimes the best plan is the “simplest.”

dabbawala harvard case study ppt

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dabbawala harvard case study ppt

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The dabbawala system: on-time delivery, every time case study analysis & solution, harvard business case studies solutions - assignment help.

The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time is a Harvard Business (HBR) Case Study on Technology & Operations , Fern Fort University provides HBR case study assignment help for just $11. Our case solution is based on Case Study Method expertise & our global insights.

Technology & Operations Case Study | Authors :: Stefan Thomke, Mona Sinha

Case study description.

To maximize their effectiveness, color cases should be printed in color.Describes the Mumbai-based Dabbawala organization, which achieves very high service performance (6 Sigma equivalent or better) with a low-cost and very simple operating system. The case explores all aspects of their system (mission, information management, material flows, human resource system, processes, etc.) and the challenges that the Dabbawala organization faces in a rapidly changing environment. An outside consultant proposes the introduction of new technologies and management systems, while the leading logistics companies (e.g., FedEx) come to Mumbai to learn about the Dabbawala system.

Disruptive innovation, Intellectual property, Marketing, Social enterprise, Strategy, Supply chain, Technology

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Step 1 - reading up harvard business review fundamentals on the technology & operations.

Even before you start reading a business case study just make sure that you have brushed up the Harvard Business Review (HBR) fundamentals on the Technology & Operations. Brushing up HBR fundamentals will provide a strong base for investigative reading. Often readers scan through the business case study without having a clear map in mind. This leads to unstructured learning process resulting in missed details and at worse wrong conclusions. Reading up the HBR fundamentals helps in sketching out business case study analysis and solution roadmap even before you start reading the case study. It also provides starting ideas as fundamentals often provide insight into some of the aspects that may not be covered in the business case study itself.

Step 2 - Reading the The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time HBR Case Study

To write an emphatic case study analysis and provide pragmatic and actionable solutions, you must have a strong grasps of the facts and the central problem of the HBR case study. Begin slowly - underline the details and sketch out the business case study description map. In some cases you will able to find the central problem in the beginning itself while in others it may be in the end in form of questions. Business case study paragraph by paragraph mapping will help you in organizing the information correctly and provide a clear guide to go back to the case study if you need further information. My case study strategy involves -

  • Marking out the protagonist and key players in the case study from the very start.
  • Drawing a motivation chart of the key players and their priorities from the case study description.
  • Refine the central problem the protagonist is facing in the case and how it relates to the HBR fundamentals on the topic.
  • Evaluate each detail in the case study in light of the HBR case study analysis core ideas.

Step 3 - The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time Case Study Analysis

Once you are comfortable with the details and objective of the business case study proceed forward to put some details into the analysis template. You can do business case study analysis by following Fern Fort University step by step instructions -

  • Company history is provided in the first half of the case. You can use this history to draw a growth path and illustrate vision, mission and strategic objectives of the organization. Often history is provided in the case not only to provide a background to the problem but also provide the scope of the solution that you can write for the case study.
  • HBR case studies provide anecdotal instances from managers and employees in the organization to give a feel of real situation on the ground. Use these instances and opinions to mark out the organization's culture, its people priorities & inhibitions.
  • Make a time line of the events and issues in the case study. Time line can provide the clue for the next step in organization's journey. Time line also provides an insight into the progressive challenges the company is facing in the case study.

Step 4 - SWOT Analysis of The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

Once you finished the case analysis, time line of the events and other critical details. Focus on the following -

  • Zero down on the central problem and two to five related problems in the case study.
  • Do the SWOT analysis of the The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time . SWOT analysis is a strategic tool to map out the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats that a firm is facing.
  • SWOT analysis and SWOT Matrix will help you to clearly mark out - Strengths Weakness Opportunities & Threats that the organization or manager is facing in the The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time
  • SWOT analysis will also provide a priority list of problem to be solved.
  • You can also do a weighted SWOT analysis of The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time HBR case study.

Step 5 - Porter 5 Forces / Strategic Analysis of Industry Analysis The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

In our live classes we often come across business managers who pinpoint one problem in the case and build a case study analysis and solution around that singular point. Business environments are often complex and require holistic solutions. You should try to understand not only the organization but also the industry which the business operates in. Porter Five Forces is a strategic analysis tool that will help you in understanding the relative powers of the key players in the business case study and what sort of pragmatic and actionable case study solution is viable in the light of given facts.

Step 6 - PESTEL, PEST / STEP Analysis of The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

Another way of understanding the external environment of the firm in The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time is to do a PESTEL - Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental & Legal analysis of the environment the firm operates in. You should make a list of factors that have significant impact on the organization and factors that drive growth in the industry. You can even identify the source of firm's competitive advantage based on PESTEL analysis and Organization's Core Competencies.

Step 7 - Organizing & Prioritizing the Analysis into The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time Case Study Solution

Once you have developed multipronged approach and work out various suggestions based on the strategic tools. The next step is organizing the solution based on the requirement of the case. You can use the following strategy to organize the findings and suggestions.

  • Build a corporate level strategy - organizing your findings and recommendations in a way to answer the larger strategic objective of the firm. It include using the analysis to answer the company's vision, mission and key objectives , and how your suggestions will take the company to next level in achieving those goals.
  • Business Unit Level Solution - The case study may put you in a position of a marketing manager of a small brand. So instead of providing recommendations for overall company you need to specify the marketing objectives of that particular brand. You have to recommend business unit level recommendations. The scope of the recommendations will be limited to the particular unit but you have to take care of the fact that your recommendations are don't directly contradict the company's overall strategy. For example you can recommend a low cost strategy but the company core competency is design differentiation.
  • Case study solutions can also provide recommendation for the business manager or leader described in the business case study.

Step 8 -Implementation Framework

The goal of the business case study is not only to identify problems and recommend solutions but also to provide a framework to implement those case study solutions. Implementation framework differentiates good case study solutions from great case study solutions. If you able to provide a detailed implementation framework then you have successfully achieved the following objectives -

  • Detailed understanding of the case,
  • Clarity of HBR case study fundamentals,
  • Analyzed case details based on those fundamentals and
  • Developed an ability to prioritize recommendations based on probability of their successful implementation.

Implementation framework helps in weeding out non actionable recommendations, resulting in awesome The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time case study solution.

Step 9 - Take a Break

Once you finished the case study implementation framework. Take a small break, grab a cup of coffee or whatever you like, go for a walk or just shoot some hoops.

Step 10 - Critically Examine The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time case study solution

After refreshing your mind, read your case study solution critically. When we are writing case study solution we often have details on our screen as well as in our head. This leads to either missing details or poor sentence structures. Once refreshed go through the case solution again - improve sentence structures and grammar, double check the numbers provided in your analysis and question your recommendations. Be very slow with this process as rushing through it leads to missing key details. Once done it is time to hit the attach button.

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The Legend Of �Management Guru

The real story of the organization which really shake all the masters of business administration experts

WHO IS DABBAWALA?

  • 5000 Dabbawala
  • 2,00,000 Dabbas
  • Six sigma certified
  • ISO 2000 certified
  • Most are illiterate
  • Lecture MBA’s
  • No strike for 116 years
  • Prince Charles friend
  • Pride of Marathas
  • Icon of hard work

How The Dabbawala System Started

  • It was the time when English were ruling the India.
  • New Government offices, Post offices, Bridges, etc. were being constructed.
  • No Mc ’Donald or Pizza hut.
  • A Parsi Banker employed a person to bring home made food to site.
  • His Colleagues too liked his idea and started availing this service.
  • Slowly this evolved into the present 5000 strong Dabbawala System.

Founder Of Dabbawala System

Mahadu Havaji Bacche

  • Educated only upto class 2
  • Started the Dabbawala system with the handful of 35 Dabbawala in 1890

Dhondiba Medge

  • Educated only upto class 4
  • Framed the rules and regulations of Dabbawala.

Beliefs Of Dabbawala

  • Work is worship
  • Serving people is serving god
  • Annadan is mahadan
  • The decedents of the dabbawalas were thewariors in the army of Chatrapati Shivaji mahraj
  • Time is money
  • Unity is power

What Is Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association

  • History – started in 1890
  • Charitable trust – registered in 1956
  • Education – 85% illiterate
  • Total area coverage – 60 kms/70 kms
  • Employee strength – 5000
  • Mukhadhams – 635
  • No. of dabbas – 2,00,000 dabbas i.e, 4,00,000 transactions every day
  • Time taken – 3 hours.

Q Factors of Dabbawala

  • Error rate – 1 in 6 billion transactions
  • Six sigma performance (99.9999)
  • Technological backup- nil
  • Cost of service-Rs 250-300 per month
  • Standard price for all (space, distance and weight)
  • Rs. 30 crore approximately annual turnover
  • “ No strike “ as reach one a share holder
  • Earnings – Rs. 4000 to 5000 pm

Major Features Of Supply Chain

  • 0% modern technology
  • 0% investment
  • 99.9999 performance
  • 100% customer satisfaction
  • Food is taken from home and delivered to office
  • Wearing white cap during business hours
  • Reporting to duty on time
  • Behave properly and respect the customer
  • Carry identity cards

Coding System

  • Initial coding system used colored threads to mark 7 islands
  • Then utilized thrown away cotton waste from tailor.
  • Now using color markers
  • E:: code for dabbawala street at residential station
  • VLP:: residential station Ville Parle
  • 3:: code for destination station
  • E.G :- Church Gate
  • 9:: Code for dabbawala at destination

Some Examples Of Coding System

Six Sigma Certification By Forbes Group

  • Dabbawalas got six sigma
  • Dabbawalas were invited to collect the six sigma certificate they did not know of what it made gold or bronze
  • The certificate is lying in the cupboard eating dust
  • Dabbawalas got ISO 9000 – 2001 for excellence in service.The only think that *the error is horror*
  • Dabbawalas work with great efficiency without caring for any certificates

The Strategy Story

How Mumbai Dabbawalas became a case in point in the supply chain?

Hum dabbe ke sath khana hi nai sahab bahut kuch deke jaate hai, kabhi kabhi pyaar bhi hota hai!! -Mumbai Dabbawalas

Before I delve into the strategy behind the famous Mumbai Dabbawalas, let me tell you the story of my first interaction with them. It was during my first internship almost nine years ago at ONGC when I first experienced living in Mumbai, the city of dreams.

I was excited to explore my new home, places to eat and the famous Mumbai local. While most of the things were sorted easily, having home-cooked lunch was a challenge.

I saw that every day, a man wearing white Kurta-Pyjama (a traditional Indian Attire) and a white colour Gandhi cap, would bring multiple lunch boxes just before lunchtime. I thought to give this a try, and that was my first experience with the Mumbai Dabbawalas.

Intrigued by their service levels, I was fascinated to find more about how they managed their operations. 

Grab some food while you read along. 

With every problem comes an opportunity to innovate, disrupt and create value

More than a century ago, as India started to grow, more and more people started migrating to cities for work. While new jobs were emerging, there was hardly any fast food culture or office canteens to cater to the hunger pangs at noon.

The unavailability of any service to get a hot home-cooked meal at work was the problem visionary Mahadeo Havaji Bachche sought to solve. Thus the Bombay Dabbawalas was born, and then the rest is history. 

Even now, when technology has disrupted the meal delivery industry, the dabbawalas are going strong.

They deliver almost 200,000 meals per day that translate to 400,000 transactions a day and that too without any technology.

How are mumbai’s dabbawalas able to do this almost every day.

The dabbawalas follow a straightforward yet effective methodology. The dabbas (boxes) have a sequence of distinguishing marks on them to segregate the dabbas and avoid mixup. Let us understand the specifics:

(1) abbreviations for collection points, 

(2) color code for starting station, 

(3) the number for destination station and 

(4) markings for the final destination – building and floor. 

dabbawala harvard case study ppt

The large, bold number in the centre – indicates the neighbourhood where the Dabba must be delivered. 

The second on the edge of the lid – is a number identifying the Dabbawala who will make the delivery, an alphabetical code for the office building, and a number indicating the floor. 

The third—a combination of colour and shape, shows the station of origin.

Additionally, their supply chain has the most simplistic model (Hub and Spoke): 

  • First mile : The Dabbawala collects the dabbas from the houses in the locality and brings them to the nearest sorting hub( generally the local train station). 
  • Middle Mile : The collected dabbas travel through various sorting centres until it reaches its final sorting place.
  • Last-mile : The dabbas are again sorted as per the building they have to deliver to and handed over to the last-mile team. 

They repeat the whole exercise twice daily to send back to their place of origin. 

dabbawala harvard case study ppt

Looks like a simple strategy, right !!

While many organizations might have tried to copy it, there are hardly any other success stories.

So what makes them so unique that reputed business schools have written a case study on their service levels and great influencers such as Richard Branson, Prince Charles and many more have visited Mumbai, to know more about them?

Mumbai Dabbawala’s mantra for success is three-fold:

Every Dabbawala is an entrepreneur himself managing the customers in his area. They are self-employed as the rightful owners in the Dabbawalas organization. They have an innate sense of ownership towards their work.

Every Dabbawala strictly adheres to policies and standards. 

Over the years, the organization has perfected the standards they want to maintain, and the whole group follows it to the letter. That helped them to reduce variances and deliver a very high service level consistently so much that they were ISO 9001 certified. 

It is the most crucial factor for their success which brought the whole organization together. Almost all the dabbawalas belong to the Varkari sect of Maharashtra and follow Saint Tukaram. The Hindu God Vithoba, whom they workshop, teaches that giving food is the greatest deed to do in life. Their utmost spirituality towards this divine idea is what drives them ultimately.

Are you thinking if their strategy is still relevant? How are Dabbawalas competing with online food delivery platforms?

While all the food delivery platforms use point to point delivery system, the dabbawalas have perfected the hub and spoke model , tapping the economies of scale. The average monthly subscription cost is between Rs. 500 to Rs. 1500 per month. Additionally, a high level of customer satisfaction has created considerable customer loyalty giving them a fighting chance against the tech-enabled younger players.

The principles for which the Dabbawalas stood by has become the founding pillars for so many new companies. 

What the dabbawalas have started, the leading players in the food delivery industry has adapted and used technology to scale the business and created value for consumers. 

The dabbawala journey is a true story of community building and belief system, something that has created a legacy for future generations.

Interested in reading more  Advanced Strategy Stories ? Check out our collection.

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Prajul is an engineer by training and holds a business degree from HEC Paris. He believes the best way to learn is by interacting with people. He loves to travel and meet new people. Connect with him on LinkedIn to know more

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Mumbai Dabbawala Case Study

Aug 05, 2022

70 likes | 76 Views

Founded in 1890, Mumbai Dabbawalas are the men dressed in traditional white outfits with Gandhi caps delivering home-cooked food to Mumbaikar from home to office daily.<br><br>They are a strong army of nearly 5,000 people who ensure that 2,00,000 people get their lunch on time at their offices.<br><br>Their work is so efficient that many famous personalities like Richard Bradstone and Prince Charles have visited them.<br><br>Moreover, these men in white have given lectures at different business schools. Therefore, they are six sigma compatible.

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STREAMLYNACADEMY.COM MUMBAI DABBAWALA CASESTUDY

INTRODUCTION CASESTUDYOFPOPULAR MUMBAIDABBAWALASYSTEM

THE INVENTION OF MUMBAIDABBAWALA Foundedin1890,MumbaiDabbawalasarethemendressedin traditional white outfits with Gandhi caps delivering home- cookedfoodtoMumbaikarfromhometooffice daily. Theyareastrongarmyofnearly5,000peoplewhoensurethat 2,00,000peoplegettheirlunchontimeattheiroffices. WithnoeducationtoworkasclerksinthehomesofBritishers butwithenoughenergytoembarkonanyhardwork,theidea ofdeliveringhome-cookedfoodwasborn. Thuswasthelaunchofthe“DabbaDeliverySystem”inMumbai.

HOW DID THE MUMBAI DABBAWALAEMERGE? Nearly125yearsago,aParsibankerworkinginFortBranchwanted to have home-cooked food in his office. So he appointed a young man who belonged from Gurgaon to get his lunch from his home everyafternoon. Itishowthejobof1stDabbawalaemerged. TheMumbaidabbawallapricewasnearlytwoannasatthattime. Soon, the business started picking up and gaining popularity because of the visionary work of Mahadeo HavajiBacche,whoconsideredthisagoldenopportunity anddecidedtogrowitasabusiness.

HOWCOVID-19AFFECTED THEDABBAWALAS TheCOVID-19Pandemichasdealtacruelblowtothemenin white. Thousands of dabbawalas retreated to their original homesinrurallocationsasthevirusragedacrossMumbai,a cityofover20millionpeople,cripplingthecentury-oldfood supplychain. Someofthemweresurvivingonstaterationsandcharities. They neither had electricity nor mobile connectivity in their homes.

GROWTH OF DABBAWALAS In October 2020, an official website for the dabbawalas, digitaldabbawala.com,waslaunched.Itisanofficialwebsite thatincludesdetailsofallthedeliveryorganizations. InNovember2020,theylaunchedaDabbawalaapptomake food delivery accessible and uncomplicated. The app helps youfindfoodandorderfoodfromwhereyouare. InAugust2021,thedabbawalaslaunchedtheirdigital operationknownasCentralKitchen,whichletscustomers placeordersforawidevarietyoffoodfordelivery.

STREAMLYNACADEMY StreamlynAcademy:-StreamlynAcademy offersthebestDigitalMarketingcourses& Programmatic Advertising Training in Bangalore. Learn from industry experts & accomplish internationally recognized Digital MarketingCertifications. Contact-https://streamlynacademy.com/

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IMAGES

  1. Dabbawala case study

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  3. Case Study Dabbawala Pdf

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  4. Mumbai dabbawala case

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  5. 💌 Dabbawala case study solution. Dabbawallahs of Mumbai (A) Case

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  6. 💌 Dabbawala case study solution. Dabbawallahs of Mumbai (A) Case

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VIDEO

  1. A Day of the Dabbawalas

  2. How FAILURE is KILLING Dabbawala? : Dabbawala Business Case study ( Survival Struggle of Dabbawala)

  3. The Six Sigma Dabbawalas of Mumbai

  4. Mumbai Dabbawala on Success through Synergy

  5. Dabbawalas: How India's 130-year-old food delivery system works

  6. Dabbawala

COMMENTS

  1. Mumbai's Models of Service Excellence

    The dabbawalas of Mumbai prove otherwise. Six days a week, these 5,000 self-managed, semi-literate workers deliver upwards of 130,000 lunches from customers' homes to their offices with ...

  2. The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

    Describes the Mumbai-based Dabbawala organization, which achieves very high service performance (6 Sigma equivalent or better) with a low-cost and very simple operating system. The case explores all aspects of their system (mission, information management, material flows, human resource system, processes, etc.) and the challenges that the Dabbawala organization faces in a rapidly changing ...

  3. The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

    Describes the Mumbai-based Dabbawala organization, which achieves very high service performance (6 Sigma equivalent or better) with a low-cost and very simple operating system. The case explores all aspects of their system (mission, information management, material flows, human resource system, processes, etc.) and the challenges that the ...

  4. The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

    HBS Case Collection; The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time ... Abstract. The Mumbai-based dabbawalas are a 5,000 or so person organization that achieves exceptional service performance with a semi-literate workforce. ... Thomke, Stefan H. "The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time." Harvard Business School Teaching Note ...

  5. Harvard Business Publishing Education

    Featuring: Stefan Thomke, Mona Sinha. The Inside the Case: The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time video offers behind-the-scenes insights on teaching the case from coauthor Stefan Thomke. He discusses the case's learning objectives, provides introductory and discussion questions that have worked well for him, offers suggestions for ...

  6. Case Study of Mumbai Dabbawala system-On time delivery Every Time

    Operational Committee. Meet Mr. Dadabhau Age: Mr. Dadabhau's. 12.00-1.00 pm Delivery. SWOT ANALYSIS • STRENGTH: THE ROYAL VISIT: . AWARDS AND FELICITATION Shri.Varkari. CONCLUSION • Sense of. Case Study of Mumbai Dabbawala system-On time delivery Every Time - Download as a PDF or view online for free.

  7. 'The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time'

    In February 2010, HBS published his observations in the form of a case study, entitled 'The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time'. One of the most authoritative analyses of the dabbawala community and the environment they operate in, the case study has since been debated and discussed extensively in classrooms as well as in Harvard's management development programmes .

  8. (PDF) Mumbai Dabbawala's case: An excellence to supply ...

    The Dabbawala's transacts 200,000 customers on any average day for 6 days a. week, 51 weeks i.e. 400,000 tiffin's a day (to and fro). The Dabbawala's have always. delivered the tiffin's to ...

  9. Dabbawala Case Study: How Mumbai Thrives On This Model?

    It has been awarded with the title of " Six Sigma" from the study conducted by the Harvard Business School, which means that the dabbawalas made less than 3.4 errors per million transactions. ... Summing Up: The Dabbawala Case Study. The Mumbai Dabbawala Service, one of the most famous things of Mumbai. The dabbawala service that has been ...

  10. Mumbai`s Dabbawalas: Moving Beyond Their Iconic Business Model Post

    The case study 'Mumbai's Dabbawalas: Moving Beyond Their Iconic Business Model Post COVID-19' examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business of the Mumbai dabbawalas, a 130-year-old organization primarily engaged in delivering lunchboxes mostly from customers' homes to their offices in the city. The case highlights the ...

  11. What Harvard is learning from the Mumbai dabbawalas

    The Harvard case study notes that when the dabbawala organisation first started, one dabbawala would be in charge of an area and would hire 15 to 20 delivery boys. But in 1983, the dabbawalas moved to an owner-partner system based on a profit-sharing model.

  12. Presentation on case study on mumbai dabbawalas

    CASE STUDY ON. founder Mahadeo Havaji Bachche Founder Raghunath. A dabbawala. Today, businessmen. Offices often. PROCESS. 9:30-10:30 am Pickup dabba. CODING SYSTEM OF DABBAWALAS. PRESIDENT VICE PRESIDENT GENERAL SECRETARY TREASURER DIRECTORS.

  13. Popular Mumbai Dabbawalas Case Study-2023

    Case Study of Popular Mumbai Dabbawala System- 2023. September 28, 2023 July 22, 2022 by Admin. Gateway of India, Haji Ali, Hotel Taj, Colaba Market, ... A study conducted by the Harvard Business School rated it "Six Sigma," which means that the dabbawalas made less than 3.4 errors per million transactions.

  14. The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time Case Study Analysis

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    Mumbai Dabbawala A Case Study. Mar 21, 2010 • Download as PPT, PDF •. 15 likes • 24,752 views.

  17. How Mumbai Dabbawalas became a case in point in the supply chain?

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  18. PPT

    Mumbai Dabbawala Case Study. Founded in 1890, Mumbai Dabbawalas are the men dressed in traditional white outfits with Gandhi caps delivering home-cooked food to Mumbaikar from home to office daily.<br><br>They are a strong army of nearly 5,000 people who ensure that 2,00,000 people get their lunch on time at their offices.<br><br>Their work is ...

  19. Dabbawala Harvard Case Study Ppt

    Harvard Dabbawala Case Ppt Slide Study. Evaluate each detail in the case study in light of the HBR case study analysis core ideas. • Include the page number (s) when using a direct quote Harris (1989) notes. "Children can also imagine believing something that they know t b f l " ( 77) to be false" (p. The only Summary Of All Office ...

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  21. Dabbawala Harvard Case Study Ppt

    We're sure we have a professional paper writer with the skills to complete practically any assignment for you. We only hire native English speakers with a degree and 3+ years of experience, some are even uni professors. Dabbawala Harvard Case Study Ppt. Level: College, University, High School, Master's, PHD, Undergraduate. 1344. Finished Papers.

  22. Presentation dabbawala

    Presentation dabbawala. May 20, 2012 •. 92 likes • 82,657 views. Prachi Tekriwal. Business Travel. 1 of 30. Presentation dabbawala - Download as a PDF or view online for free.

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