Moving Lunches Through Mumbai

Tiffin_Boxes.jpg
Idris Mootee is educating us on India’s dabbawalas, or box persons. In Mumbai dabbawalas collect freshly cooked food in lunch boxes and deliver them to the workplace.

The Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association is a streamlined 120-year-old organization with 4,500 semi-literate members providing a quality door-to-door service to a large and loyal customer base. It is probably one of the best ran organization in India with sophisticated logistics management. It works like this. After the customer leaves for work, his/her lunch is packed into a tiffin provided by the dabbawala. A color-coded notation on the handle identifies its owner and destination. Once the dabbawala has picked up the tiffin, he moves fast using a combination of bicycles, trains and his two feet. In the dabbawalas’ elegant logistics system, using 25 kms of public transport, 10 km of footwork involving multiple transfer points, mistakes rarely happen.
I wish there are service like that in America. Most of our modern B-school education is about analytic models, technology and optimization, the dabbawalas, by contrast, focus more on “human and social ingenuity”.

What might modern day communications professionals learn from this, if anything? How about this–information moves through a network even faster and more efficiently than box lunches through Mumbai. Now, if I just knew the significance of that finding. Oh well, why sweat it? Ken Kesey said, “The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.”

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About David Burn

Native Nebraskan in the Pacific Northwest. Brand builder at Bonehook. Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. Contributor to The Content Strategist. Believer in Gossage, Bernbach and Clow. Doer of the things written about herein.