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TheStreet Open House

Jugaad to Help Fight Economic Sharks

 

How did you go about achieving this objective?
Radjou: We decided to look for that new model in emerging markets like India and China.

 

Why emerging markets?
Radjou: Because we had noticed that (throughout the 2000s) emerging economies had grown at double-digit rates despite the sheer complexity and resource scarcity that characterize their societies. We intuited that if entrepreneurial companies in India, China, Brazil and Africa are able to grow fast in such adverse and resource-limited environment, then they must be using some "secret formula."

 

Did you find that formula?
Radjou: Alas, after spending several years meeting and interacting with dozens of entrepreneurs in EM we realized that these innovators didn't rely on any special "technique" -- rather they all share a unique mind-set. It's a resilient mind-set that enables them to turn adversity into opportunity and do more with less in resource-constrained settings. That frugal and flexible mind-set is what (for the lack of a better word) we labeled as "jugaad." Jugaad is a Hindi word that means an "innovative fix--an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness".

 

Jugaad denotes the ability to improvize a solution in an unpredictable setting and demonstrate resourcefulness when resources are scarce. We found that jugaad is not restricted to India: there are similar terms to convey the spirit of jugaad in other emerging markets -- like the word "jeitinho" in Brazil or "jua kali" in Kenya. We came to conclude that Western companies would greatly benefit from adopting the jugaad mind-set so they could learn to create affordable and sustainable solutions in an increasingly complex, unpredictable, and resource-scarce economic environment. So we wrote the book Jugaad Innovation as a way to show how Western companies can inculcate the jugaad mind-set in their organisations and learn to become nimble andfrugal.

Also see: The Wild West of Pay Loans for Joe College

In the West, people talk more about minimalism. Would people in West prefer jugaad or minimalism?
Radjou: I think 'minimalism' and' jugaad' go hand in hand. Minimalism is a lifestyle choice made by a growing number of Americans who are "downshifting" their hectic, complex lifestyle and choosing to lead a simple but more meaningful life. Studies show that 15% to 28% of Americans have already voluntarily adopted simplified lifestyles. Unfortunately existing products and services sold in the West are too complex and expensive to cater to this growing market of "minimalist" consumers. That's where jugaad can come in handy. When leveraged cleverly -- using a jugaad approach -- technologies like mobile devices can actually help "simplify" people's lives.

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