As the global economic influence continues, significant corporations view the East — not just for new markets but new inspiration.
The Hindi word ‘Jugaad’ describes an. It’s a means of life in India, where laundry machines are used for whisking up yoghurt drinks. Still, it’s also an innovation theory that’s showing to be frequently influential in the marketing activities of Western businesses.
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In business circumstances, jugaad is a “meagre, flexible, and comprehensive approach to problem resolving and innovation.”
SELCO India is a sustainable energy provider. It markets solar panels to a system of small entrepreneurs who in turn employ them to energize battery-powered lights rented to households outside the country’s electricity grid. And the ingenious electrocardiogram in a backpack, explained by GE Healthcare’s Indian engineers.
Jugaad is a clever, unconventional, savvy way to solve a dilemma. It is constantly out-of-the-box, and it is typically very focused. These are precisely the sorts of innovations Philips needs to develop products for developing markets, but eventually for more competitive developed markets.
There is a current for Western companies to over-engineer products – to make them perfect, account for all possible use cases, and make them last forever. Jugaad thinking encourages our focus on the essence, the fundamental requirements and often leads to taking the mental leap required for a disruptive new design or product.
The reality of ‘jugaad’ is confirmation that the circumstances of society are so dire that its intelligent people are doing what competent people in other civilizations do not have to do.
Indians have almost no resources to do intelligent things, often by violating the law. There is an inferred surprise in the opinion of such fables by columnists and academics—that poor Indians can be so bright. Collectively, this intelligence is recognized as jugaad in north India. It covers the unendurable stories of the dabbawalas of Mumbai. These are the guys who collect and deliver lunch boxes with precision. An ambitious Sikh man who employs a washing machine to get lassi.
In the past ten years, a halo has been bestowed on jugaad by the confluent attention of Indian English-media journalists. The foreign correspondents who “understand” India through such pictures and promote them. They usually convert their incomprehension of local stories into hefty sociological concepts. That is how jugaad enhanced “the Indian way of innovation” that administration gurus advised the West to follow. A kind of law-breaking and street smartness in the face of poverty and governmental incompetence was elevated into a management principle.
Like many sophisticated fans of jugaad, the authors wished to abolish the idea of jugaad all that is illegal and unethical because such gurus cannot be seen as recommending something that breaks laws and morals. But jugaad is not solely the smartness of an individual or something which absolute conformists in suits retain parroting—”thinking out of the box”.
Jugaad is “frugal innovation”, and giant corporations should learn from poor Indians. Jugaad is often precisely that mangled thing that has lent the idea its name—the illegal, dumb, dangerous vehicle, a poor man’s Transformer built from the parts of other vehicles, and irrigation pumps. Suppose over 150 years after the invention of the internal combustion engine, modern Indians are using this as public transport. In that case, there is nothing to celebrate or for more high-level societies to learn from.
Jugaad, the vehicle, is an outcome of many problems, chiefly India’s incompetence to provide safe and affordable public driving to millions of villagers. And jugaad, as a system of innovation, is evidence of related problems.
Also, the whole purpose of jugaad is that it is no ample opportunity. Any culture can collect scrap and make a cheap car. Any culture can put an opening on a clay pot and call it a fridge. The reality of the jugaad is merely evidence that the circumstances of society are so dire that its intelligent people are doing what competent people in other cultures do not have to do.
There is a thought that before-mentioned simple innovations can solve problems no one else but the poor want to determine. But then India continues enduring evidence that giant capitalistic market teams that throw up accidental solutions are more beneficial to the poor than jugaad, or humble altruistic research.
In the end, the intricacies were solved by BlackBerry, Apple and Google, giant companies that thought extensive and considered having extravagant budgets for innovation.
Solid and flexible are internally or supply-side focused; they track cost efficiencies or responsiveness as a conclusion goal. Jugaad, in contrast, is essentially externally or demand-side focused. It works cost-efficiently as a means to achieve a more excellent plan of attaining higher cost to customers. Jugaad innovators attempt to create products and services that get high on three attributes increasingly considered by customers: Affordability, quality, and sustainability.
The formalization and industrialization of R&D created a split between technologists and marketers. Still, if jugaad tells us anything, it is the centrality of understanding consumer needs and then working back – even if that’s as simple as deciding the price that people can afford. The consumer is front and centre here, and marketers are central to driving the jugaad innovation process in the organization.
More youthful people in the West have shifted towards a post-materialistic mindset. They are more involved in the environment, in the adventure rather than acquisition. They have risen in a world of open innovation where customers are involved in co-production, empowered with computing tools and social media. This generational shift is going to be a long-term driver of frugal innovation.
Balance Affordable with Aspirational
Large numbers of people worldwide want affordable products, but that doesn’t come at the expense of any aspirational drive they might have. Yes, a Nano needs to be affordable to reach large numbers of people who currently can’t afford a car, but you can’t ram it down their throats that it’s the world’s cheapest car. You also have to point out that it’s an excellent car to drive and has traits that make it aspirational.
It’s about employing people who have a jugaad mindset, then developing the empowerment of small units at every level of the organization, compatible with bottom-up innovation. There has to be a particular component of craziness, darkness, and space for serendipitous learning. Too much process will kill that creative fire.