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By Preetam Kaushik
NEW YORK (
MainStreet) --Navi Radjou, co-author of
Jugaad Innovation wears three hats. The first one is made in India, the country that gave the world the most powerful number called zero. The second hat comes from France with vestiges of Renaissance thinking. The third one which he now prefers to wear links him to America, the modern world's El Dorado.
To be born in India is to be born with the "jugaad gene." In Hindu mythology, when Ganesha beat his elder brother Karthik (the commander of the divine army) in the race across the universe, he gave to India the spiritual philosophy, which recognizes the 'mother' as the real universe. We can also call it "spiritual jugaad."
There can be no better example of the power of political "jugaad" than Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent movement for India's freedom from British rule. Subhash Chandra Bose (another Indian freedom fighter) tried to achieve the same goal by following the Western model of armed combat and failed. Gandhi did not need money to raise his army of freedom fighters; Bose did.
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In the social sphere of the third world the joint family was the "jugaad" to keep expenses down. Markets exploit, families don't. In moments of financial crisis Indian men turned to their grandmothers, mothers and wives for an "economic bailout". Indian women intuitively knew the importance of running the household within the earning capacity of the breadwinner and saving for the proverbial rainy day. That is, perhaps, the reason why when the rest of the world suffered the consequences of the 2008 economic meltdown, India got away with minor injuries.
The meltdown aroused the "jugaad" gene in Radjou who decided to share with corporate America and the rest of the Western economies the financial wisdom contained in this atom. Radjou is trying to split this atom for the financial world to reap the benefits of frugality. He explained this to us in more detail in an exclusive interview.
How did this idea (Jugaad Innovation) actually come? Radjou: In 2008, as Western economies plunged into recession, my co-authors (Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja) and I came to a lucid conclusion: the traditional innovation model, built around big R&D budgets and structured processes, which sustained the growth of Western companies -- and Western economies in general -- throughout the 20th century was broken. That "bigger is better" R&D paradigm that long dominated the West was crumbling and had to be fortified with a new innovation model that is frugal, flexible, and inclusive.