Sundarrajk's Weblog

Archive for the ‘Jugaad’ Category

Jugaad Innovation: A Frugal and Flexible Approach to Innovation for the 21st CenturyJugaad Innovation: A Frugal and Flexible Approach to Innovation for the 21st Century by Navi Radjou
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jugaad is a word that like Karma and Dharma have no equivalent in English. It is understood and practised by the natives. It is also followed by others, but is not necessarily seen as Jugaad.
If one were to describe Jugaad to English speakers one would use the phrase “a quick fix for a complex problem”. It has come to connote “a quick and dirty fix for a complex problem”.
The authors in the book wish to dispel the myth that a quick fix need not always be a dirty fix. They further add the connotation of “innovation under constrained conditions” to Jugaad. Given that most of this type of inventions/innovation happen in third world countries where all types of resources are constrained, it is a correct conjecture.
The authors have come up with six guiding principles of Jugaad:
1. Seek Opportunity in adversity
2. Do more with less
3. Think and act flexibly
4. Keep it simple
5. Include the margin
6. Follow your heart
The authors also point out none of these have been relevant in the R & D labs of the large companies. As a result most of the output from these labs are over engineered solutions which satisfy the greed of the well to do and do nothing to satisfy the need of the have nots.
They suggest that this attitude needs to change given the fact that even the developed countries are facing financial crunches in the last few decades. Also the large populace of countries like India and China which are being seen as potential markets by these multi-nationals does not consist of customers with deep pockets. Instead these are customers who are looking to maximize value for the money they pay out. These companies will fail to penetrate these markets unless they adopt and adapt to Jugaad Innovation. This does not stop with innovation in products, this policy needs to extend to the after sale service too.
The authors go on give a variety of examples from different corners of the world, including India, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Phillipines where people have used their ingenuity to come up with innovations which has benefitted a large underserved populace.
At the same time the authors say that the R & D labs of the large companies need not be shut down, but need to be supplemented by Jugaad Innovation across the organization. The R & D department can possibly refine the innovations of these Judgaad innovators to make it appealing to the populace who are ready to pay more.
Some interesting Jugaad innovations that the authors mention are
1. A low cost incubator to keep the newborn babies warm in South India using a 100 watt bulb.
2. A low cost fridge made out of clay (called mitti cool) innovated in Gujarat.
3. An SMS based system to respond to cataclysmic events such as hurricanes, earthquakes or epidemic outbreaks. This has proved beneficial to many countries where people cannot afford smartphones. It has also benefitted the US.

One gets the feeling that the authors are suggesting that many of these innovations have come up because of a desire to serve the underserved. This seems too much of an altruism to expect from individuals and more so from large companies. E.g. if a GE innovates and comes up with smaller, cheaper equipments in the medical equipment industry, it is not because GE cares for the poor suffering without healthcare, it is only because they feel there is a market to be exploited and that it will swell their coffers.

All in all a good read.

View all my reviews