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‘Jugaad Innovation’

18 April 2012

The article at a glance

New book co-authored by Professor Jaideep Prabhu looks at a frugal and flexible approach to innovation Professor Jaideep Prabhu, the Jawaharial Nehru …

New book co-authored by Professor Jaideep Prabhu looks at a frugal and flexible approach to innovation
The front cover of Jugaad InnovationProfessor Jaideep Prabhu, the Jawaharial Nehru Professor of Indian Business & Enterprise and Director of the Centre for India & Global Business at Cambridge Judge Business School, has co-authored a new book, Jugaad Innovation, that advocates a frugal and flexible approach to innovation, which is already used in countries such as India, China and Brazil.

With his co-authors Navi Radjou (an innovation and leadership strategist based in Silicon Valley) and Simone Ahuja (Founder of Blood Orange, a marketing and strategy consultancy), Professor Prabhu looks out how ‘jugaad’ – a Hindi word meaning an improvised solution born from ingenuity and using scarce resources – is a leading growth in emerging markets, and how Western companies can adopt this approach to succeed in a hypercompetitive world.

It discusses the six underlying principles of jugaad innovation: seek opportunity in adversity, do more with less, think and act flexibly, keep in simple, include the margin and finally follow your heart.

Examples from emerging markets are used, such as the invention of the MittiCool, a low-cost fridge invented by an Indian villager, that is made of clay and doesn’t require any electricity to run, but also how forward-thinking Western companies, such as Apple, Facebook and 3M, are already applying jugaad principles to innovate faster, cheaper and better.

Professor Prabhu commented:

Jugaad innovation was once a much bigger part of Western economies. It was the frugal and flexible mindset of jugaad-style entrepreneurs that catalysed growth in Western economies, like that of the US during the Industrial Revolution. In the 20th Century, however, Western nations have progressively lost touch with this jugaad spirit as they matured into post-industrial economies and became attached to a more systematised, predictable way of life and work. Improvised ingenuity – the essence of jugaad – took a back seat to a more formally structured approach to innovation. Now jugaad innovation is making a comeback in Western economies. Also, because jugaad is more flexible than traditional structured approaches, jugaad innovators are constantly looking to tailor, not only their products, but also their business models to the constraints their customers face. Thus a major focus of jugaad innovators is making their solutions not only good enough, but also affordable and accessible to their customers.”