Thanks for writing about Palantir – didn’t know of this company before I read your post. It is fascinating to see that finally a company is using treasure trove of unstructured data hidden in big organizations.
I love VICE news. Thanks for covering this in your write-up. Its my favorite news channel for conflict journalism. In addition to your brilliant analysis, what stands out for me is VICE’s inquisitiveness, honesty, courage and straightforwardness (they are clearly not the most diplomatic of the lot – and I love it!). Also the diversity in their product range makes the channel super interesting – from a documentary on ISIS and Guantanamo Bay, to 2 min daily video news, to short written news pieces.
Thanks Prof. Marco. I am a big fan of this organization – it is the king of process improvements! They are totally awesome.
Firstly, on error management – as described in the post errors in the Dabbawalas system are very visible – for example dabbawala missing a train or lunchbox not reaching on time. This encourages them to analyze each time an error happens, and build a process to make sure it is not repeated. Hence, the secret behind their magic is the good old concept of ‘incremental continuous improvement.’ In additional, to ensure that workers still have a tiny margin of error for certain tasks – they maintain buffer capacity in their schedules. You can read more on https://hbr.org/2012/11/mumbais-models-of-service-excellence
Secondly, on entry barriers – believe it or not, the barrier to entry is their operating model. It has taken them 125 years to built this super efficient system. Their experiential learnings is what keep them ahead of the curve. Also, as you see their price point is very low, making the margins low – disincentivizing new players who might need higher prices to recoup their investment. Having said that, you are right – their biggest threat would be companies (such as uber) that can leverage technology to build a better model. Dabbawalas have been actively adopting mobile to further improve their processes.
Thanks for your comment on the stick figures 🙂
Thanks Sacha! Your observation is bang on – context is the king. I missed mentioning this point explicitly in my post, but as you pointed out – business and operating model are secondary to market needs and context – who are your customers? what is the skill set of your employees? What are the customer needs? what are the external challenges (traffic!)? what cultural context are you working in?
Thanks Nina! Glad you liked the post (and the weird stick figures!).I completely agree with your observation. Sometimes we restrict our thinking to processes and systems while thinking about operations, and Dabbawala’s model reminds us that organizational design plays a big part in firm’s operating and business model. As we saw in several cases (such as Toyota, Benihana, MOD pizza – Lead etc) implementation of operational strategies crucially depends on alignment of motivations and incentives – tying operations closely with the organizational design.
Great read. Flatiron is definitely moving the needle in how technology is leveraged in healthcare for better outcomes. Most current IT systems used in healthcare delivery are archaic – with non-user friendly interface, low integration across clinics, low ability to do data analysis to develop predictive trends and finally next to zero capability to provide medical insights for clinician take to better decisions for better patient outcomes. Flatiron seems to tackle all these issues by completely reinventing the interface bottoms-up (much like IDEO’s design-thinking method). Another impressive company doing similar work on Lab-Data integration is Medivo (http://www.medivo.com/). Check it out!