Despite a weak stock market, a shaky economy and the prospects of being laid off, you sense self-satisfaction in the war stories which Indian executives trade with each other.
One evening in Bangalore, a young man complained of a mall in Berlin which didn’t let him in because he was one minute late. Another one narrated the story of a New York hotshot who was devoted to his excruciatingly detailed schedule that even making a call to his son required a time slot.
The underlying message in these conversations is: Westerners are too wedded to their schedules and processes. And that will prove to be their undoing, when Indians, with their more flexible approach, get a chance to rule the world.
The Indian idea of jugaad—which refers to the ‘anything goes’ attitude—has acquired a new meaning (frugal and flexible innovation) in management and is now in the mainstream. In seminars and conferences, analysts and academics talk of it at length in the same way they spoke of Japanese style management in the ’80s.
Two recent books—Reverse Innovation: Create Far from Home, Win Everywhere by Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble, and Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth by Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja—have received wide attention.
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(This story appears in the 03 May, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)
The war stories that Indian executives trade reveal battles they have won but not the wars they have lost; the life style diseases and the consequent loss of efficiency in an atmosphere of jugaad which affect 85% of the pvt. sector (v/s 8%in government jobs) It is one thing to think innovatively and quite another to be repeatedly confronted by a crisis laden environment. The delayed adoption of tubeless tyres is one example. Jugaad is a means not an end. Shoddy quality, lack of standardisation, inability to scale up, the \"chalta hai chala dehnge\" attitude is what keeps India at the bottom of the scale in a multitude of spheres including research and development. Frugality and flexibility is fine provided it is sustainable in the long run. Nor can we keep reinventing the wheel. A multi tasking clerk at a chemist\'s is a delight but do we have to rely on our wits every time we wish to board a public bus.on May 7, 2013
Are you guys serious? I mean a journalist should write with a little more knowledge about his surroundings. Jugaad has destroyed India. The way we do not respect time, the way things get done by paying bribes and circumventing official channels - these things have been our undoing. India\'s growth is slipping, it has a really sorry picture abroad as a land of dwindling resources and an unsustainable population - and you are actually believing these \'experts\' who wrote a feel-good book which Indians will read. Jugaad is not good. Westerners are wedded to the right things - and that has helped their economies remain dominant for decades, including now. India is tiny in comparison - its economy too small compared to developed countries - and it will remain so if people, including you who find it easy to write a positive review without knowing about the topic much, rely on jugaad and take the easy way out.on Apr 30, 2013
Hi Ketan, thanks for the comment. Request you to read two small extracts from the piece that might give a sense of how the word \'Jugaad\' is used in management and the authors\' views on it. ---- $ The Indian idea of jugaad—which refers to the ‘anything goes’ attitude—has acquired a new meaning (frugal and flexible innovation) in management and is now in the mainstream. -- $ The innovation challenges of Indian companies are different. If you go to a typical company in the West, the processes are very elaborate, and over time they might even get bureaucratic. They end up not being fast in responding to the market. In their context, the idea of ‘think flexible’ is relevant. However, in India, we are starting from the other end. We have largely depended on ad hoc ways and improvisations. It’s good if Indian companies approach it in a more structured way.\" --on May 1, 2013
Holy Crap. It is the Jugaad mentality that is at the center of every crisis in India (water problem, garbage crisis to traffic woes to social apathy to corruption, caste and god knows whatelse). Now, we are espousing it as a Global Management Strategy? The author should have signed-off by saying \'I am a Buffalo and I approve this Message\'.on Apr 28, 2013
Hi Jram, thanks for the comment. The authors of the book actually argue against it. Have a look at the reply to Ketan.on May 1, 2013
Outstanding article. Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),Indiaon Apr 25, 2013