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Out of the Box

It's a business model that has made it to the course books of Harvard Business School,ICFAI,IIMs...

Written by ShevetaBhatia |
January 21, 2009 1:09:17 am

Ceo of Mumbai Dabbawallah association shares the six-sigma story

It’s a business model that has made it to the course books of Harvard Business School,ICFAI,IIMs,to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not and also the Guinness Book of World Record! The Mumbai Dabbawallahs’ success story is unparalleled and unique. And the face behind it all,Pawan Agrawal,CEO,Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Supplier Association,stopped by at University Institute of Applied Management Studies to share the secret behind the six-sigma performance rating. For the uninitiated,a six-sigma status means that the probability of error is one in 16 million!

Working sans technology,with about 5,000 employees,most of them having studied only till Class VIII,the Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association supplies about 2,00,000 home-cooked tiffin boxes to anywhere in Mumbai. The 118-year-old business,which has earned worldwide acclaim,smiles Pawan,works beyond any limitations. “That’s because limitations are only in the mind. We surveyed local circumstances and short-listed manual push carts and local trains as our means of commuting,devised a coding system to ensure safe deliveries and made stringent discipline rules to ascertain zero attrition and error-free food distribution,” Pawan elaborates on how shortcomings can be and have been transformed into opportunities here. Formed more than a century ago when total quality management was unheard of,they marketed through promotional pamphlets in the tiffin box and contributed Rs 50 each for community lunches,when corporate social responsibility did not exist. “This,because we work from the heart. Even when Prince Charles had to meet us,it was only between 11:20 and 11:40 am at the Churchgate Station,when the dhabawallas were relatively free. For us,work is above everything else,” a quality,rues Pawan the new generation lacks.

With an ISO certificate granted without an application,ranked among top 50 Indian entrepreneurs,documented by BBC,CNN,TV Tokyo,“most of the people who are part of it,don’t know the importance of the awards,but work for the sheer love of the job,” Agrawal emphasizes that to succeed every one has to think himself as an entrepreneur,work with precision,be loyal to the company and turn losses into profits!

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