“Jugaad” – Design & Innovation Inspiration from India

I recently learned about the word “jugaad” from my friend Rikta Krishnaswamy at Quicksand Design. The way I understand it, it means to jury rig, or to create makeshift solutions however you need to in order to make something work. The word has a long history in India, where innovations often come about by necessity. The quality of said solutions may not be high, but they may be cheap and accessible, and sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.

– A vehicle actually called a “jugaad”, it is made from accessible scrap parts and transports people short distances in India (source)

It’s a widely talked-about term online, especially catching the interests of non-Indian innovators, with a healthy back-and-forth about its pros and cons in different contexts by Indians and non-Indians alike. This article in HBR, “Use Jugaad to Innovate Faster, Cheaper, Better”, explores jugaad as a useful inspiration and state of mind for entrepreneurs in any situation. It’s a good read, sparking good thought and pointing to examples of innovations by Embrace with its low-cost baby incubating wrap, YES Bank and mobile payments, SELCO and its lighting offerings, and GE Health. From the post:

The jugaad mindset — and its associated principles and practices — is increasingly relevant for companies worldwide who are seeking to grow in an increasingly complex and resource-constrained business environment. Unlike traditional, structured innovation methods that rely on time-consuming and expensive R&D processes, the more fluid jugaad approach delivers speed, agility, and cost efficiencies. Jugaad is a “bottom up” innovation approach that provides organizations in both emerging and developed economies the key capabilities they need to succeed in a hypercompetitive and fast-moving world: frugality, inclusivity, collaboration, and adaptability.

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