What Composes your Six Sigma Team?

Posted by: meikah | 10 March 2008 | 9:44 pm

This is a very important question. The success of the improvement team will depend in part to its composition.

Many say that a good Six Sigma infrastructure should comprise fully trained business leaders, quality leaders, experts, and individuals supporting specific projects in their areas. Others also claim that a person from the shop floor would be a valuable member of the team as he knows the goings-on from below.

dabbawalas and six sigmaThere is however a team that is working on Six Sigma efficiency, in fact more than six sigma because they claim only 1 mistake in every 16,000,000 deliveries. This team is not composed of engineers, quality practitioners, finance men, or management gurus.

I’m talking about the Dabbawalas. They collect home-made food and deliver it to the office workers. At first, you might think this task is just a piece of cake. But the Dabbawalas have increaed and so is their service.

And here’s the interesting part: Eighty-five percent of the Dabbawala team is illiterate and 15% is educated upto 8th grade. How does the Dabba team work?

The entire system depends on TEAMWORK and meticulous timing(in fact so meticulous that, during his visit to India, Prince Charles had to fit in with their schedule so as to not disrupt their schedule). In the course of the dabba’s daily journey, a single dabba would change hands 3 to 4 times. Prior to this, they are sorted out for area-wise distribution from the railway station where it was initially delivered. It is interesting to note that each dabba follows a color coded pattern.

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What does this imply? Simply that when you have good solid system in place, people understand it and follow it, then you achieve something great. If I remember correctly, I think it was Peter Drucker who said that 80% of the problem lies in the sytem, and 20% in people.

Related story:
Team Dynamics


*Photo from the article

Filed under: Dabbawalas, Deployment, Six Sigma, Six Sigma Organizations, Team Dynamics, Zero Defects

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