Jugaad innovation – Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth
In their “Jugaad Innovation ” book Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu & Simone Ahuja, show a new R&D bottom-up innovation approach.
The term Jugaad, is a Hindi word that roughly means “an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness.” In their book the authors explain how Western organisations could rethink traditional top-down R&D, with the bottom-up jugaad approach. I personally think that jugaad can be a supplement to traditional innovation approaches and the challenge is to find the right balance between them.
Jugaad literally means being resourceful. In Belgium and France people we call it “Système D” and the Americans once called it “Yankee Ingenuity” but now call it “DIY,” for “do it yourself.” Jugaad is not a methodology it is a life style or a mind-set that people have in an environment with limited resources – scarcity, rapid change, diverse populations and challenging circumstances. Creative and resourceful people use jugaad instinctively to improve their lives.
Do not associate jugaad with Indian entrepreneurs, this approach is also used in the West. All the people, working hard to make things better for others are jugaad thinkers. Helping others is the central mission in the classic Indian jugaad spirit.
Bottom-up – more with less – VS Top-Down – more with more -.
In the beginning of the century the West was a great environment for jugaad thinkers, but the industrial era replaced this creative and intuitive bottom-up approach, with a top-down, highly structured innovation practices. Our Western companies have established large R&D budgets, structured business procedures and control of knowledge to manage their R&D departments. The effects are inflexible, insular, time consuming, slow and over engineered solutions that are expensive to produce. On the contrary the jugaad mind-set allows people to develop new services or products in a faster, better and cheaper way.
This is some kind of “more with less,” versus “more with more” challenge.
The Six Principles of Jugaad
Here is a short explanation of the six basic principles of the jugaad mind-set:
1 – Seek Opportunity in Adversity
Entrepreneurs who start businesses in emerging countries have to deal with adversity, with poor infrastructure, heavy/ slow bureaucracy, unstable politics and residents that cannot afford most of their their products. Jugaad innovators see these problems as opportunities.
2 – Do More with Less
The proper of jugaad attitude is to innovate with limited resources and accomplish great things with them.
3 – Think and Act Flexibly
Like other innovators, the jugaad thinkers are flexible and always figure out how to put ideas into practice. Always ask yourself “What if…”.
4 – Keep It Simple
Develop simple and inexpensive products and services. Jugaad thinkers don’t add lots of features on their solutions. They propose features that people are willing to pay for.
5 – Include the Margin
Big organisation don’t frequently design and sell products and services to the margins of society, including the poor. Jugaad focuses therefore on this enormous potential market and score big.
6 – Follow Your Heart
Jugaad entrepreneurs follow their heart and passion. They use focus groups to choose what products to launch or which features to include. They try to rely on their hunch to develop their products. Steve Jobs thought this way. Follow your heart and rely on your intuition instead of “customer-driven innovation.”
- Jugaad is a mind-set that with willpower and inventiveness, you can do almost anything with almost nothing.
- Bottom-up – more with less – innovation stands in contrast to the West’s Top-Down structured – more with more – R & D approach.
- Jugaad deals with scarcity, fast environmental change and other contemporary challenges.
- Occidental organisations can adopt the jugaad approach as a supplement to traditional innovation.
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