Operational Agility: The Dabbawalas of Mumbai

Dan Pink has a fabulous new book out: When

You must read it.

In this book, Dan discusses a remarkable organization.

Consider this.

  • Imagine running a delivery service when your 5000 employees are barely literate!
  • And achieving six-sigma quality.
  • With error rates less than one in a million.

How would you do it?

  • Rely on lots of technology?
    • Wrong.
  • Build an elaborate transportation infrastructure?
    • Again, wrong.
  • Set up complex hierarchical reporting structures?
    • Wrong once more.

The answer?

  • You rely on basic human abilities and teamwork.

I call it an example of operational agility.

It is one of the five agilities that I discuss in my book, Nimble.

Operational agility enables leaders and organizations to deal with sudden changes and glitches in operations.

This organization that Dan Pink discusses is based in the large metropolis of Mumbai.

The organization is commonly called dabbawallas—the lunchbox carriers.

Watch this remarkable video:

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