Case | HBS Case Collection | February 2010 (Revised January 2013)

The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time

by Stefan H. Thomke and Mona Sinha


Describes the Mumbai-based Dabbawala organization, which achieves very high service performance (6 Sigma equivalent or better) with a low-cost and very simple operating system. The case explores all aspects of their system (mission, information management, material flows, human resource system, processes, etc.) and the challenges that the Dabbawala organization faces in a rapidly changing environment. An outside consultant proposes the introduction of new technologies and management systems, while the leading logistics companies (e.g., FedEx) come to Mumbai to learn about the Dabbawala system.

Keywords: Technology; Service Operations; Service Delivery; Logistics; Alignment; Management Systems; Human Resources; Innovation and Invention; Mumbai;


Thomke, Stefan H., and Mona Sinha. "The Dabbawala System: On-Time Delivery, Every Time." Harvard Business School Case 610-059, February 2010. (Revised January 2013.)