Management gurus

There is huge amount of management crap nowadays: various books, theories, groups, associations, webinars and etc… But it seems that there are very interesting places where we can learn how to organize companies and which management practices to apply.

Recently I stumbled upon one article in Wikipedia with a strange name Dabbawala - The more information i found more i was surprised how their work is organized - This food delivery service dates back to the 1890’s and it’s goal to deliver freshly made food from home in lunch boxes to office workers. No one could replicate it successfully so far (at least I couldn’t find any prove for that)

Key aspects I identified for myself. I find them quite difficult to implement in most (all?) companies, but it seems that it’s critical for the success despite context you are working in:

  • Simple coding system and intense team work allows to have no documentation at all
    • What are ways in your organization to throw away documentation or process descriptions which get old very fast? Too many times I saw efforts to make this and it never works. But we are stubborn, aren’t we?
    • To simplify things we must switch from rules to principles. Of course principles must be discussed and reviewed, but they must go first. In this case it won’t be so scary to change and adjust rules.
  • Very simple and obvious external regulatory mechanism for teams that instantly provide truthful feedback – railway system. If you fail, you can’t do anything about that and you must learn otherwise you go directly to bankrupt.
    • In most other companies regulatory mechanisms are very “soft” and depend on people judgment not objective variables, e.g. sprints in scrum, midterm financial results and etc.
    • No idea so far how to implement such obvious regulatory mechanism. Any ideas?
  • Flat and decentralized organizational structure. Only three layers of management. Each Dabbawala contributes capital when joining and return on capital is ensured by monthly division of the earnings of each unit.
    • All companies are hierarchical and centralized. These ideas are too radical for most of the companies. Niels Pflaeging has ideas about that…
  • Connection with the client between team and client is very strong and personal. Dabawallas own their relationship with customers and tend to work in their locations for years. They know their clients personally and build long term and trustful relationships.
    • How many steps is your team away from the clients: sales, customer support, marketing, project managers and etc.?

I am sure that there are a lot more good practices that can be applied, but these are the most challenging ones to apply in our context. What do you think about that? Please write me if interested to discuss how can these practices can be adopted.

Do you know some other successful systems that we can learn from? I wouldn’t be surprised if I find that same principles that work there.