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Mar 5, 2020 in 

Affordable innovation through ‘JUGAAD’

Jugaad is a term applied to a creative or innovative idea providing a quick, alternative way of solving or fixing a problem.

BJ Jhaveri

Business Coach

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JUGAAD = an Indian slang word pronounced as "joo-gaard"

Jugaad is a term applied to a creative or innovative idea providing a quick, alternative way of solving or fixing a problem. Jugaad literally means an improvised arrangement or work-around, which has to be used because of lack of resources - Wikipedia

The usage of this term is sourced from India where farmers were building makeshift trucks powered by agricultural water-pump engines. These small contraptions came to be known as jugaad. Then there was the television antenna created out of metal clothes hangers, the electric iron that flipped over to become a stove, the bucket with tiny holes that when hung up high, turned into a shower. So, jugaad, when considered as a verb instead of a noun, means to be innovative despite scarcity or to be resourceful even when the odds are against you.

This term recently entered the lexicon of consultants, along with six sigma, total quality, lean, kaizen, etc. A key difference - Lean is supply-side focused; whereas Jugaad is primarily demand-side focused. A ‘jugaad’ mindset strives to create products and services that score high on three attributes: affordability, quality, and sustainability.

In a business context, jugaad is a frugal, flexible, and inclusive approach to problem solving and innovation. It can be considered as an approach to develop products that cost a fraction but offer enough value to attract demand.

Jugaad can also be used in day to day management. We may sometimes be tightly bound by our stringent processes & rigid structures and get constrained by rules. In this context, jugaad could be a sort of out-of-the-box and network-style thinking that could serve us well in times of change, crisis and in extreme circumstances. It implies using strong collaborative skills, an open mindset, and boundless flexibility. Thus, jugaad works as a ‘soft competitive edge’ in business.

Caveat: Jugaad may not be applicable for solving systemic issues which need root-cause analysis. It might be ineffective for changing deep-seated beliefs. Jugaad is not a transformative approach. Instead, it could be considered as an improvisational or makeshift style of innovation due to scarce resources.

Principles of jugaad:

  1. Frugal. Do more with less and it doesn’t have to cost a lot
  2. Agility. Instead of over-engineering, prioritize what is most critical and aim for the low-hanging fruit
  3. Simplicity. Less is more, and sometimes the best ideas are the simplest
  4. Thinking laterally. Don’t get constrained by the odds against you, and explore alternatives

Mantra for Jugaad: Think laterally, keep it simple, and do more with less

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