Forget about some technological buzzwords or those fancy business models that fly around in our day-to-day business meetings especially when the meeting involves business consultants. Technology or a fancy building layout will not make a business successful.
Substance is what makes a business worthwhile. I have a standard question ready for my clients when they come asking for the golden rule of running a successful business. “..can your business survive in a chaotic condition?..
You need to see the light come on to their face. It is that simple! You should be rethinking you’re your business model if it cannot survive a chaotic situation.
The Dabbawalas are masters of perfection in the midst of chaotic movement. It is recorded that they have only one (1) defect out of every 16 million deliveries made. This is way beyond the Toyota six sigma philosophy of near perfection.
In order not to make this post unnecessarily long by going into detailed explanation of dabbawalas, I encourage you to read this Wikipedia article https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabbawala on dabawalas if you have the time.
What are those things that make the Dabbawalas so successful even in the face of chaotic situation? Well, below are lessons to be learnt from this wonderful professionals that have stood the test of time.
- Specialization: there is no gain saying that specialization is the major pillar to accomplishing great things. The dabbawalas do only one thing and that one thing is to deliver food to their clients. They don’t try combining it with cooking the food for instance.
- Commitment: when you watch the dabbawalas do their thing, you will see nothing else but total commitment and undiluted dedication. This compliments the specialization mentioned above to form an incredible force.
- Training: the dabbawalas starts early in life to learn the art and science of distributing food to their customers. They undergo years of training in order to master the nitty gritty of rendering quality service in the food delivery industry.
- Capacity: the issue of inadequate capacity was never present in the business model of the dabbawalas. This is evidenced from the fact that only one defect is recorded from sixteen million deliveries – incredible!
- Processes over computerisation: the dabbawalas spend quality time fine tuning their processes rather than thinking of deploying one sophisticated system or the other. Please do not get me wrong, business computerization is important but business process automation and computerization should not make managers loose focus of setting up processes that would stand and condition.
- Succession plan: continuity is a fundamental facet of any meaningful business that is worthy of any body’s time and effort. Many businesses struggle to outlive their founder simply because they lack a coherent succession plan.
- Customer service: great customer service is second to none as far as gaining and retaining customers is concerned. The dabbawals does not have dedicated customer service team but yet consistently delivers above and beyond the expectations of the customers. Successful organizations of our time are known for consistently wowing their customers.
- Promptness: If there is, one thing that end users of services enjoy the most that thing should be prompt delivery of goods and services. Promptness partly ensures that the food are delivered fresh.
- Spirituality: this point may sound weird to some but is true for some reason. All dabbawals are looked up to spiritually for guidance. All the other points made in this article may not have worked if the supernatural didn’t control things from the spiritual. My Mumbai friend confirmed this.