Dabbawala and six sigma

Based in India, the Dabbawala organization is the buzz of the six sigma consulting world. To quote from the Economist’s article: 

Using an elaborate system of colour-coded boxes to convey over 170,000 meals to their destinations each day, the 5,000-strong DABBAWALA collective has built up an extraordinary reputation for the speed and accuracy of its deliveries…

At 9am every morning, home-made meals are picked up in special boxes, which are loaded onto trolleys and pushed to a railway station. They then make their way by train to an unloading station. The boxes are rearranged so that those going to similar destinations, indicated by a system of coloured lettering, end up on the same trolley. The meals are then delivered–99.9999% of the time, to the right address.

Apparently there is now an HBR case on the organization.  This is probably worth checking out further if you need to discuss quality management.

The Economist, July 10, 2008


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