I recently finished the book “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing” by Daniel Pink. A story shared by Pink towards the end of the book really struck a chord with me. It was about a lunch delivery system in India referred to as dabbawalas. For over 120 years, this lunch delivery system has successfully brought home-cooked meals directly to their customers without the use of technology.
I don’t want you to think about the dabbawalas, which literally translates to “one who carries a box,” as an outdated DoorDash. So, I’ll give you some perspective. Every day in the city of Mumbai, roughly 5,000 dabbawalas deliver 200,000 home-cooked lunches to workers through India’s most densely populated city. They pick-up 200,000 lunches from the workers’ homes, sort, organize, and deliver the lunches to the office. Then after the lunches are eaten, they reverse the process, returning 200,000 containers back to the homes of each worker. This is accomplished on trains, bicycles, and by foot. Even more amazing is they only make a mistake once in every six million deliveries.
The dabbawalas do this so efficiently that FedEx and UPS have studied this group. You may be thinking, “Sure delivering 80 million hot lunches every year is pretty impressive, but where is he going with this?”
Let me tell you what resonated with me from Pink’s sharing about this group. The ability to coordinate this kind of accuracy requires a critical element in team and organizational performance referred to as group synchronicity. According to Pink, the dabbawalas’ results are possible because of their fixed pace, a strong sense of coherence, and a unifying mission. These three elements can be used to synchronize the performance of any group.
We do amazing things here at Southview. Every day, you show up and deliver incredibly compassionate care to people in their most vulnerable times, all to make a positive impact in their lives. Now think about those times it felt effortless to accomplish your jobs–that is being in coherence with your co-workers.
Now I know we can be in group synchronicity, because I’ve seen it happen often as I round. Our unifying mission is what ties it all together. The spirit that the dabbawalas show is the same spirit that ties us together as we focus on our mission, our call to care.
Southview Medical Center