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.
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.