Jugaad Innovation – When shortage becomes an added value

Jugaad Innovation – When shortage becomes an added value

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On Wednesday November 12th, the International Cultural Centre Collalto, , located in via Emilio de’ Cavalieri 7/a in Rome, hosted a panel discussion with Mr. Giovanni Lo Storto  (General Manager of LUISS Guido Carli University) and with Mr. Gian Luca Giovannucci (lawyer, President of EucA) concerning “Jugaad Innovation“. The discussion, co-organized by the International Cultural Centre Collalto, by the International University College of Rome (Cuir), by EucA (European University College Association), by the Conference of Merit University Colleges (CCUM) and, last but not least, by LUISS University, dealt with a book, recently published in Italy by the publisher “Rubbettino” in the Italian version edited by Mr. Lo Storto, entitled “Jugaad Innovation. Think Frugal. Be Flexible. Generate Breakthrough Growth”. The book, published a few years ago, came to the minds of three young Indians with brilliant careers in the Western countries, Navi Radjou (strategic advisor), Jaideep Prabhu (professor) e Simone Ahuja (entrepreneur). Nevertheless, what does “Jugaad” mean? It is an ancient Hindi word, which refers to a useful idea applied in order to solve as quickly as possible a problem. That is, capitalise on scarse resources in an innovative way in order to solve daily problems. A concrete example? Let’s talk about Mr. Madeshwaran, a roadside corn seller in Bangalore. During the last period, due to his oldness, Mr. Madeshwaran wasn’t able anymore to manage to fan by hand the coal on which he was used to cook his corn. Since that, suddenly an idea came to his mind. Instead of giving up or picking up a debt in order to buy an expensive electronic device, the seller invented a new solution. He built a homemade, makeshift fan, whose blades were made from cooking dishes, and developed a wooden mechanical arm inside which he put all the wires linked to the battery (in order to avoid any contact with the flame) and, finally, with the purpose of working even at night, Mr. Madeshwaran added a small light powered by the same battery that powered the fan and located onto the mechanical arm. All this work has been realized with waste materials, and it worked perfectly. This device now allows the seller not to fan the coal by hand for several hours everyday, which constitutes a very tiring activity. “Jugaad Innovation” is a concept made by stories like this. However, as it has been pointed out throughout the discussion, it must be avoided the mistake of thinking that this kind of solutions is only needed in developing countries. Even big Western corporations, indeed, should learn to use these principles. Instead of investing millions of dollars in top-down expensive R&D projects, controlled strictly, the time has come to learn how to fully take advantage of the existing resources (starting from the bottom-up). This step is necessary both to start a more frugal growth and to improve our own talent. Moreover, as it has been reminded by the speakers, human mind works better when it is forced to find a solution. It is easy to forget about this key principle in a rich world like ours. This different way of thinking can be very useful even to the numerous University students who attended the event, as stated by Mr. Giovannucci (who is working since 2008 thourgh EucA in order to enhance “soft skills” and non academic competences of European graduates, who are usually asked about by their employers, and of which “Jugaad” is a perfect example): students are asked to become, starting from these days, tomorrow’s innovators. That is to say: sometimes, “less is more“.

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