The Mumbai dabbawallahs have been awarded the six sigma award.
For those who aren’t familiar with six sigma methodology, in layman’s terms, a six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of all opportunities to produce some feature of a part are statistically expected to be free of defects i.e. 3.4 defective features / million opportunities or 3.4 ppm (parts per million).
The dabbawalas make less than one mistake in every six million deliveries!
Most of the companies in manufacturing sector strive to achieve this level of perfection, and there are hardly any Indian companies who have done it yet.
“Twelve years ago, some people from Delhi came to Dabbawala and said they want to do research on Dabbawala; they prepared a project and went back to Delhi.They called after 3 months and informed Dabbawala about Six Sigma. Dabbawalas didn’t know what it meant. They told Dabbawala it was a big honour so Dabbawala asked them to send it across. They were told to go to Delhi and collect it. Sixteen dabbawalas went to Delhi to collect the Six Sigma certification. People work so hard for Three and Four Sigma but dabbawalas got Six Sigma because they didn’t care about the certification and cared only about customer satisfaction. It is a big achievement especially without the use of technology. Even if the dabbawalas use technology in the form of mobile phones, they can’t because both their hands are used in delivering tiffins. Technology is useless for them for delivery. And after all this, they charge only 400 rupees per month for delivery.