29 Jul ‘Jugaad’ – India’s answer to Minimum Viable Product (MVP) & six sigma concepts
Recently, I was attending a class highlighting the importance of “Design thinking” for start-ups. Our trainer cum my mentor Dr. Petar Stojanov mentioned Jugaad philosophy and it inspired me to write about this concept of “Jugaad – a frugal & flexible way to innovate”.
As most of you are aware that I always touch upon topics which relate to either Entrepreneurship, Retailing, Brand management & Leadership. I feel, my current topic would help upcoming entrepreneurs to start their ventures in the most economical way.
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; home to million millionaires (aims to reach by 2020, 1 million millionaires mark)
Jugaad is based on six fundamental pillars:
1. Seek opportunity in adversity
2. Do more with less
3. Think and act flexibly
4. Keep it simple
5. Include the margin
6. Follow your heart.
Jugaad innovators innovate faster:
Jugaad innovators don’t use linear, pre-planned, time-consuming R&D processes. Rather, they rely heavily on rapid prototyping techniques — i.e., they collaborate intimately with customers and use their constant feedback to zero in on the most relevant product features.
Jugaad innovators innovate cheaper: Jugaad innovators are highly resourceful in the face of scarcity. Unlike many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, raising capital is the least of their worries. The practitioners of Jugaad work with what they have got.
Jugaad innovators innovate better: Jugaad innovators recognize that consumers in emerging markets are low earners, but high yearners.
To explain the concept, I would like to mention a few case studies of Jugaad innovators cum entrepreneurs as to how they have dealt with situations and innovated to make the lives of their customers easier.
Case study 1: Using adversity to own advantage:
Kanak das, a resident of North East Indian state, grew riding his bicycle on roads full of potholes & bumps, rather than complaining, he turned this constraint to his advantage by retrofitting his bicycle with a makeshift device that converts the shocks received from bumpy roads to kinetic energy which accelerates the bicycle…. Allowing his bicycle to run faster on bumpy roads.
Case study 2: Jugaad gave birth to a completely new business:
In 1980, a businessman Mr. Tulsi Tanti, set up a textile unit in Surat, sooner he found himself facing the bottlenecks like power shortage, to which he compensated by producing power through generators but resulted in very high running cost due to high fuel prices in India. His profit margin was a mere 5% wherein his power & fuel bill used to run up to 45-50% of overall operating costs. Mr. Tanti immediately moved towards wind power by installing air wind turbines in his unit, resulting in an uninterrupted power supply and reduced operating costs. (Also the initial investment of installing wind turbines were recovered in the first year itself from the savings generated from power & fuel costs).
Mr. Tanti realized the power of wind turbines and industry in feeding the power-starved country and its rural villages. This very thought gave birth to a business whom we have known as “Suzlon wind”.
Today, Suzlon is the world’s fifth largest wind energy solution provider. The company operates in thirty countries over 6 continents.
Case study 3: Mitti-cool refrigerator:
Jugaad innovator Prajapati (resident of Kutch region in Gujarat), post-2001 earthquake wherein his entire village was destroyed. He noticed that they were left with no source of providing residents with cool water options.
Being a clay artisan himself, he developed world’s first sustainable, eco-friendly refrigerator “Mitti-cool”. Mitti mean clay, his refrigerator is divided into two chambers, the water from the top chamber seeps through the inner side walls, cooling the lower food chamber through evaporation. The refrigerator is 100% bio gradable, uses zero electricity… an ingenious invention.
Today Prajapati’s Mitti-coolers are available in rural Indian villages and soon it would be exported to African region. Prajapati is not an engineer nor quantum physicists nor MBA, yet he has been able to make a difference in so many people’s lives with his work and habit of keeping things simple. Simplicity is the new mantra for success.
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.
I hope my article would help in giving directions to business owners and retailers in the Middle Eastern region & would force them to think differently and innovatively with their existing businesses.
In case you want to brainstorm and understand Jugaad concept more holistically, you may reach me on email@example.com
(Reference book – Jugaad Innovation by Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, and Simone Ahuja. I thank & salute the writers for bringing out the most unique feature of our Indian ecosystem so creatively and innovatively)
About the author:
Ritesh Mohan is a passionate retail professional with over 20 years in the retail sector, handling some of the biggest brands in beauty, fashion and fragrances retail & FMCG sector. He has been instrumental in the growth of some of the regional brands as well in the Middle East region. He specializes in Retail management, Product development, Brand management, Retail Operations, Sales Management, Business Management & Empowering business owners with his wisdom & experience of around two decades in the industry.