Posts Tagged ‘learning’

Mumbai Dabbawala Management Class

Mumbai Dabbawala as they are commonly known were invited to my office yesterday for a presentation and I got a chance to attend one of the best management lessons. It was a unique experience and the key learning was education is not decided by degrees. It was a presentation that could match the standards of any management guru and personally I liked his presentation better than noted management guru Prahalad Kakkad’s.

Before I begin to tell about presentation, I  would like to give an overview about Mumbai Dabbawala  to those who don’t know about them. It’s a team of around 5000 people who carry lunch boxes from people’s homes and serve them in their office. Sounds very simple but it’s one of the most appreciated business for it’s excellent management skills, accuracy and reliable service. They have a six sigma certificate and ISO certification which companies strive to get. The most astonishing element is that 85 % of people in team are illiterate and rest of the 15 % are also not degree holders.

He started with a video that showed the overall working of Dabbawalas, how they operate, their network, their values and every details about them. Then he started with the presentation. His way of presenting was extremely witty and some very good one liners were used.

Some of the key things I learnt about the Dabbawalas were ;

  • They carry 2 lacs lunch boxes every day to all corners of Mumbai with an accuracy of 99.99 %. This means 1 out of 1 million services has a chance of going wrong.
  • The average age of working people is 50 years and their work involves lifting weights of around 50-60 kg overhead.
  • Every person is a share holder and gets equal salary irrespective of the distance traveled, age or amount of work.
  • Dependency on technology is minimum. They travel through local trains and bicycles. They don’t have offices and thus capital involved is minimum
  • A color coding is used to identify the destination that is written on top of the lunch box. A lunch box may be carried over by more than 6 people to make it reach to correct destination.
  • Sorting of lunch boxes is done online that is on the road, in local trains etc and this happens multiple times without any mistakes.
  • Mumbai housewives fear more to Dabbawalas than their husbands. Reason being they have to keep the lunch box ready at the specified time and a delay more than 10 seconds is not tolerated. Repeated mistake for 4-5 days may lead to termination of service.
  • The cost of service is very less as low as Rs. 300 per month.
  • This business is continuing from last 119 years successfully without any strike.

It was a pleasant surprise to listen him talk about industry terms like process, domain, growth etc. He was not only using these terms but he had in depth understanding of all these things. After all he had given presentation in IIMs and other business schools.

After explaining about their way of working he gave the practices followed in their business. The things that kept them successful for these many years and still continuing. Some of them are listed below :

  • Keep every thing simple. It’s applicable particularly in their business where not many are literate even. The process followed should be as simple as possible.
  • Every one is share holder and that gives them a sense of responsibility.
  • Customers are the most important. He gave an example when Prince Charles wanted to meet them, the time and venue of meeting was decided by Dabbawalas so that customer service is not affected.
  • If you want to start a business, use existing infrastructure to minimize capital invested.
  • Find proper people for work. Even if the person is under qualified, it’s fine. An under qualified person is more motivated than over qualified person. This is not applicable everywhere but works at most places specially in their business.
  • Have people work for longer duration at one places to make relationships with clients.

There was lot more to learn. The best part was it was learning but more fun. In the end we were introduced to a person who worked as Dabbawala for 8 years and now working with  a leading IT firm with same dedication. Commitment to work pays off, atleast Dabbawalas display that.


A Tribute to My Teachers

I was reading the newspaper and realized today is Teacher’s day. I was feeling a bit bad that I didn’t remember the day. I started recalling about all the teachers who had taught me right from school to my post graduation. It was a pleasant recap and I realized there were so many people who built the foundation of my future. So, this post is my tribute to all those people who in any way taught me something for life.

It’s difficult to recall the names of all the teachers but still I would try to include everyone who had major impact in giving me some kind of education. I did my schooling upto 8th class from Saraswati Vidya Mandir. I am not aware of the current status but at that time it was a very good institution and majority of credit goes to the teachers over there who taught me in my childhood.

The culture of school was differnt from other schools and we used to call teachers as Acharyaji and Didi inplace of Sir and Madam. I remember two teachers Ghan Didi and Mungre didi who taught me in my initial days in school in classes LKG onwards. I still have my report cards with their feedback and remarks about me and will keep them for life time. Our Science teacher Tanuja didi and our principle Hirwe didi are the other two teachers whom I remember as my primary school teachers. Along with them one more teacher Ravindra Jain Acharyaji with whom we are still in touch, used to teach us mathematics and english. The two subjects which were very important in my career, were made interesting to me in early part of my life by him.

After moving from primary school to higher classes in same school, I was guided and taught by a few more great teachers. My favorite teacher was my sanskrit teacher Poornima didi. She was very soft spoken, humble and good natured. I used to work hard very hard in her subject to score max. marks and majority of times it was 50 out of 50. If she had taught all subjects, I would have scored 300 out of 300 for sure :). My hindi was very good because of our hindi teacher Joshi didi. The two teachers of whom we all used to be most scared of were our physical exercice teachers Dongre acharyji and Bairagi acharyji. They were very strict and I understood later that their strictness was for benefit of students.

I changed my school in ninth class and my luck of having some good teachers continued. I was taught mathematics by K.G. Sharma sir and the best sentence of him about mathematics was the break down meaning of word ma-the-ma-tic-s translating in his words as ” mathe (brain)  me (in) tic (keep)  warna (otherwise)  tu (you) ass (donkey)  :)”. He was a calm and experienced person. Another great teacher was Arya sir who taught us social science. Though I hated the subject but liked his personality which was simple but great. One more teacher was Bhatnagar madam and she was the best teacher of english I could have at that time. I had switched form hindi to english medium and at that time it was because of her teaching, I was not afraid of special english course. Our science teacher Bhalerav madam was very supportive for all of us.

One special teacher who will always be important for me is Anil Chincholikar sir. He taught me in school as well as for competitive exams. It was because of him that Chemistry specially organic chemistry was interesting and scoring for me. His unique style of teaching involving code words for rememering things always helped me not only in that course but other courses in future too.

Things change from school to college and so as teachers. Though I studied in classes of very good professors but they were not as close to my heart as my school teachers. But still there are some teachers whom I respect very much. One such professor is Mehta sir who used to teach operating system to us in my undergraduates. He was very serious person and we used to get surprised whenever he smiled.

There were two more persons who were not from my college but taught important things to me during my undergraduates. One is Kelkar sir, under whom i took many programming languages classes. He was a great help in my undergraduates. The other one is Mr. Sandeep Atre. He is differnt from all others in one respect. He did not teach me regular courses but taught some important things that are very useful in life. I attended his classes of Group Discussion preparation and I would never forget that learnings of those 45 days in my entire life.

After coming to IIIT-H there were a few profesors who were great personalities and it was great to listen and learn from them. Some of them whom I enjoyed listening were Dr. Kamal sir, PJN sir, Govindrajalu sir, Jawahar sir etc. Though I did not take course under them excpet Kamal sir, their dedication, way of working n doing things, communication skills were a great model of learning.

In addition to all these there have been lot of other teachers whose names haven’t come in this post but have made a differnce in my life. I would thank you all for ur efforts and helping in building my career and showing me the path that can make a responsible and good human being.