Friday, July 13, 2012

Frugal innovation

Worth a read - India's frugal dynamism.

But India’s leadership in “frugal innovation” goes beyond downsizing: it involves starting with the needs of poor consumers – itself a novel term (who knew the poor could be consumers?) – and working backwards. Instead of complicating or refining their products, Indian innovators strip them down to their bare essentials, making them affordable, accessible, durable, and effective.

Indians are natural leaders in frugal innovation, imbued as they are with the jugaad system of developing makeshift but workable solutions from limited resources. Jugaad essentially conveys a way of life, a worldview that embodies the quality of making do with what you have to meet your needs.

But jugaad is not about pirating products or making cheap imitations of global brands. It is about innovation – finding inexpensive solutions, often improvised on the fly, within the constraints of a resource-starved developing country full of poor people. An Indian villager constructs a makeshift vehicle to transport his livestock and goods by rigging a wooden cart with an irrigation hand pump that serves as an engine. That’s jugaad.