Jugaad Innovation

Last month I was in India visiting Mumbai and New Delhi, coming off engagements in Seoul, Singapore and Shanghai. India is taking off and Saatchi & Saatchi is putting renewed emphasis into this market of the future. From street to sky there’s a palpable energy in India and the promise of world-changing ideas.

One idea that juices me is Jugaad Innovation, the title of a smart new book for which I was pleased to write the foreword. When I was CEO-in-Residence at Judge Business School I met co-author Jaideep Prabhu, who with Navi Radjou and Simone Ahuja, have sounded a wakeup call from emerging markets to conventional top-down Western innovation that is flailing in the face of today’s challenges.

The Hindi word ‘jugaad’ is, in short, an innovative fix, and it has parallels in different cultures. The core of jugaad innovation’s frugal and flexible approach is to seek opportunity in adversity, do more with less, think and act flexibly, keep it simple, include the margin and follow your heart.

I think this lean, warm and bottom-up approach to generating breakthroughs has a lot to offer. The ideas strongly parallel my beliefs around inspiring with purpose, creativity from the edge, emotion leads to action, mental toughness and the need to win ugly in tough times.

Improvisation and ingenuity and cleverness and resourcefulness go to heart of it, and it brings to mind my home on the edge. Ernest Rutherford, who split the atom, attributed his willingness to experiment and find unorthodox solutions to his background in rural New Zealand. He said: “We don’t have the money, so we have to think”.

There are learnings in Jugaad Innovation for every enterprise. With its jugaad stories from emerging markets and beyond, and its reflections on the West, here’s a fresh, vibrant and colorful look at how to win.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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