My favourite stories about innovation are of the grass roots variety. Here is an inspiring  approach from India.

Jugaad is 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 (India is adding 10 million cellphone subscribers every month).

This highly resource-constrained and chaotic environment inspires jugaad innovators — i.e., the Indian entrepreneurs and corporations who practice jugaad to develop market-relevant products and services that are inherently affordable and sustainable.

Jugaad innovators are modern-day alchemists who transmute adversity into opportunity, and in so doing create value for their organizations and communities.

Examples:

Embrace, worked closely with village pediatricians and patients in rural India to iteratively optimize the design of their breakthrough portable infant warmer — which costs less than 5% of incubators sold in the West (which are typically priced around $20,000).

GE Healthcare, used the flexible jugaad mindset to make high-quality cancer diagnosis and treatment accessible to underdeveloped communities across India.

YES Bank, one of India’s leading private banks, has deployed a mobile payment solution that enables money transfer via cellphones without the need for a bank account.

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.

Read the full story here:  Use Jugaad to Innovate Faster, Cheaper, Better – Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, and Simone Ahuja – Harvard Business Review.