Dabbawala have been delivering food to people in Mumbai for more than 125 years – come rain come shine. We are always on time even during rain.
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 from Harvard Business School. “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.