In-the-field prototyping with Jugaad, MacGyver & me

Another great view into real world design and prototyping by Catapult Design—this time from industrial designer Noel Wilson.  Reposted with permission from Catapult’s blog, originally published here.

The value of a prototype is in what it can test. It isn’t always necessary to make it pretty, nor to make it function, it totally depends on what you are trying to learn from it. On a frugal budget, be it of time or funds, one prototype can be made to test many things, and then adapted again to test even more…but really prototypes were made to be broken, and if they last too long it is a sign you’re either not testing them hard enough or you’ve become too attached.  I admit…after sweating over prototypes late into the night in my makeshift workshops (set  up in hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms etc) and scrutinizing them for days or weeks, it is hard to let them go, let alone batter them until they fail. But tough love is justified in this case

Prep for the next days prototyping
– Preparing for the next day’s prototyping

On this trip I was headed to Rajasthan with Wello to visit a  mix of communities around Jodhpur & Udaipur to tune their device to better suit peoples needs and environment (see our Wello project page). I had to carry my kit on some challenging modes of transport to slice, melt, join, flatten, form, twist and repair our prototypes as we broke them.

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“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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