Jugaad vs Jugaadu: Where negotiations end and 'navogations' begin

Navogation goes beyond the traditional definition of negotiation; all negotiations must be thought of with a larger lens of making things happen, and a 'Jugaadu' person is one who brings that mindset

Nick Vaidya
Updated: Nov 11, 2019 06:39:17 PM UTC
Image: Shutterstock

I would define 'Jugaadu' as a person who can envision the sparkling constellations of possibilities and doggedly pursue them to a wondrous outcome. It is not the low-cost innovation under constraints that defines a Jugaad, but instead the unyielding resilience of the Jugaadu despite the prognostication. A Jugaadu is the archetype of an individual who is defiant, innovative, and unrelenting.

I want to tie the concept of negotiations to Jugaad. Negotiation is a multi-meaning word that fails miserably in explaining anything clearly. It means different things to different people, and in being so, a lot of us limit our thinking and restrict the outcomes. For example, win-win negotiation can mean compassionate and compromising negotiation to some people. That, unfortunately, would be a flawed viewpoint. A video of my conversation with William Ury, co-founder of the Harvard Negotiation Program, is about "win-win" as the undiscovered possibilities of higher value for all parties, and not at all about making accommodations. This idea makes Jugaad the big brother of our prevalent view of negotiation as seen in wheelings and dealings of a fixed pie.

Here is an excellent example of Jugaad Negotiation, which I want to term "Navogation" because it is way beyond the traditional definition of negotiation.

It was the start of the 20th century, and President Roosevelt was itching to make a mark for himself, as well as the USA. He wanted a grand and dramatic entrance on to the world stage, to flex muscles and showcase American leadership, ingenuity and engineering marvel. An opportunity existed: The construction of the Panama Canal. It was an earth-shattering opportunity--literally as well as figuratively. Nothing like that had ever been done before.

Eventually, ships would go up the mountains; not up-current, but physically be lifted to get across the hills to the other side. Yellow fever and malaria had to be exterminated from the region, and a nation had to be created to accomplish the Panama Canal project. He fervently needed to make this happen. But wanting and making were two entirely different things. The famed architect of the Suez Canal, a hero to the French people who later died disgraced, had led the previous failed attempt with a loss of 10 years, $10 bn, and 20,000 lives. This made the success of the Panama Canal all the more alluring to Teddy Roosevelt, not to mention the need to meet the economic and martial goals of the United States.

One of the first and rather significant challenges for the US was to get permission from the Sovereign Nation of Colombia. That entire story is of a prolonged and complicated negotiation, including browbeating with a possible Nicaraguan canal instead. The point of this story is to demonstrate that negotiations have to be seen not as a talk between two sides but as a broader strategy of making things happen. The notion that a negotiation is a talk between two or more parties is a limiting one. The negotiation vision of a Jugaadu leader is to see a larger canvas for painting a big picture and making things happen. We might call this - Jugaad of a gargantuan proportion.

Teddy Roosevelt tried to negotiate, but he failed. The Colombian Parliament unanimously voted against the idea. So he went ahead and expanded the negotiation by involving a group of local leaders of the region to create leverage. When even that failed, the notion of a new nation emerged. Mr Roosevelt had the option of sending troops to Columbia to fight a war, which he did consider. But instead, he chose a different method.

He sent bags of money to the Colombian soldiers in the Panama region, asking them to go home. With the loss of one donkey and a foreign-born shopkeeper, in one day, Panama became a free country, without any other bloodshed. On the morning of November 3, 1903, the rebels seized the region aided by the well-timed appearance of an American gunboat nearby in the harbour. By sundown, the revolution was over. The United States was the first country to recognise the Republic of Panama, just three days later. The Columbian leaders never imagined the audacity of Teddy Rosevelt. To me, that is brilliant Jugaad in making things happen. Moral or ethical discussion is beyond the scope of this article.

The reason I am calling it negotiation rather than political manoeuvring is to make a point that all negotiations must be thought of with a larger lens of making things happen. It is first and foremost a preparation and the expansion of goals and tools long before it is a “talk”. Unfortunately, most of us jump onto the negotiation table with limited information and even a more limiting vision of what needs to be achieved and how. Negotiation is a strategy before it is a talk, and often, it requires a degree of the arrogance of thought to open up possibilities. Jugaadu is a person who brings such a mindset.

The author is an Executive Search, Culture and Strategy Advisor, Speaker and CEO Coach at Allen Austin.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

Check out our end of season subscription discounts with a Moneycontrol pro subscription absolutely free. Use code EOSO2021. Click here for details.

Post Your Comment
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated