Will you do us the honor and join our team of authors?

To write for the SohoBlog, contact us at [email protected]
(Shakespearean prose not required.)

Jugaad: A Simple and Flexible Approach to Innovation

India is considered the future of entrepreneurship due to its highly educated population, extreme diversity, intense connectivity, and growing demand for technology and products that meet the needs of its dynamic business environment. At the root of entrepreneurship lays innovation; therefore, many people advocate that a Silicon-Valley-type of community should be supported and developed in India. Others wonder if a Silicon-Valley-type of culture can and needs to be developed in India and raise questions on the compatibility of the Western model of innovation to the Indian business environment.

Three entrepreneurs and scholars, all of Indian origin, discuss just this in their book In Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth. The authors propose a new way of innovation aimed at fueling growth and entrepreneurship in developed countries.

Literally, Jugaad is a Hindi word that means “an improvised solution born from ingenuity,” and according to the writers this is what innovation in high-paced developing countries is all about. In an interview for UPenn’s “Knowledge @ Wharton” online magazine, the three authors talk about what inspires them and what stands behind the idea of Jugaad. I thought I’d share with you a few of the interesting points they make.

As a prime example of a person using Jugaad, they mention Ben Franklin. They exemplify how he used some of the principles of Jugaad. First, they suggest growing up in a large family led Franklin to be frugal in his personal life and his inventions. They give as an example the Franklin stove that used less wood to generate more heat. They say that Franklin was a flexible thinker and was the first to use the open-source approach; therefore, he never registered his inventions as patents. That way, he thought, the masses and not just the elite of 18th-century society could enjoy and benefit from his products, just like the Jugaad principle “include the margin.” It is clear how the other Jugaad principles such as: “seek opportunity in adversity,” “keep it simple,” and “follow your heart” are also incorporated into Franklin’s work.

Another issue the authors touch on is the rigidity and predictability of innovation in large corporations. They suggest that today’s R&D departments spend too much money for too little results. They say that Western companies sanctify predictability. Over-industrialization and control in the production processes have crippled companies and made them too risk averse, and this in turn is stopping them from adequately responding to the changing needs of the market.

Last but not least, the authors touch on the importance of simplicity. They argue that companies over-engineer products to make themselves technologically advanced, thinking this will attract consumers, but instead it pushes them away. They mention Facebook as an example of a company that lets user experience take the front seat, and technology the back seat.

Developing countries have different needs, and therefore should look for different types of innovation. Alongside real entrepreneurship, knowledge, and skills lay intense poverty and adversity. The principles of Jugaad prove that there is a different type of innovation besides the one prospering in Silicon Valley.

Related Posts

Consumers: The Most Powerful Innovation Drivers
Exporting All The Way to Innovation or Maybe Vice Versa
Intelligent Communities: A Way to Spark Innovation Within
Tags: , , ,