Jugaadonomix – The real picture

Jugaad popularly referred to as ‘frugal-innovation’ has become quite a buzz-word. Borrowed from Indian colloquial for “a quick fix”, Jugaad is being touted world-wide as the “frugal and flexible approach to innovation”. HBR defines Jugaad as …

…” a Hindi word that loosely translates as “the gutsy art of overcoming harsh constraints by improvising an effective solution using limited resources.” Jugaad is an antidote to the complexity of India: a country of mind-blogging diversity; pervasive scarcity of all kinds; and exploding interconnectivity.

Which according to us is not quite the complete definition. Hailing from the land where this word originated and seeing it in play all around us, on a daily basis, for so many years, we do believe we understand the essence of the term and hope this post will help communicate it. You see a “quick-fix” is just that – a “quick-fix”. Sure it applies innovative thinking – a brilliant spark of inspiration that can help you overcome a problem and find a solution – but one that will hold just long enough till you can find a permanent solution to the problem. Or maybe even in situations where you don’t actually need a permanent solution.

Jugaad can be thought of as a survival tactic. It is sometimes even equated with street-smartness. It could be a safety pin to hold together a rip in your shirt, old gift-wrapper paper kept to be reused, a tape to fix a broken pair of spectacles. Does it work? Sure. Is it safe? Is it sustainable.

In the same vein, do examples like Tata Nano actually deserve to be filed under Innovation? Is it actually alright to make a car cheaper while compromising on the safety of the parts and technology used?

Here are a few pictures we illustrated as well as collected from our environment to depict examples of Jugaad to you. We leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions by the end of it.

A coke bottle being used a water sprayer
Broken spectacles fixed with duct tape – Safe? Sustainable?
Safety pin used to fix slippers strap – Safe?
Dipping tire in water to detect location of puncture – Hygienic? Fool Proof?
A village kid playing with his toy(tire) – Safe? Clean?
Vehicle made by mounting diesel engine on wooden cart – Safe? Sustainable?
Ladder and wooden sheet used for shade – Safe? Sustainable?
Sign board used for shelter and living – Safe?
Make shift saloon by road side
Make shift saloon by road side – Hygienic? Sustainable?
Carrying multiple jars on one bicycle
A mobile store on a bicycle using sacks as shelves – Sustainable?

Like we said, the above examples of Jugaad can be tested against measures like safety, sustainability, fulfillment of one’s desires or aspirations, to see whether Jugaad should actually qualify at the same level as Innovation. Is “good enough” enough? We welcome your comments.

Here are some more interesting reads that you might want to read:

  1. Jugaad has hurt India a lot
  2. Use Jugaad to Innovate Faster, Cheaper, Better
  3. Can ‘Jugaad’ Get to Core U.S. Problems?
  4. Frugal Innovation: Lessons from Carlos Ghosn, CEO, Renault-Nissan
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We enable innovation! Ideafarms operates at the intersection of Design, Business and Technology and employs distinctive and innovative organisational, technical and process DNA Ideafarms delivers the 'softer' aspects of software creation - Experiential Aesthetics - pioneering the application of Industrial Design concepts and approaches - Usability, Aesthetics, HCI, Rapid Visualisation & Prototyping and Simulation - to the delivery of holistic IT enabled services and solutions.

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  • Vishnu

    I believe you are right in making the distinction. Improvisation is not equal to innovation. 
    That improvisation is innovative is beside the point. For example a metal tube supplying brake fluid to one of the wheels on my truck had a hole. It was fixed with sewing thread! A truck held by sewing thread! Well it got us another 100K safely but to your point, I was not going to use it as a permanent solution.Couple of pointsJugaad spans a spectrum. 
    I am convinced that improvisation leads to innovation.
    Point is this should be harnessed. When I say “this” I mean both the ability to think out of the box; and the improvised result.
    Vishnu.

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