Frugal innovation or the art of doing more with less

Posted on 28 April 2016.

Inspired by emerging countries, Jugaad innovation, otherwise known as frugal innovation, could end up revolutionizing the West’s established economic model.

To create more value with fewer resources against the backdrop of global shortages, businesses have to learn to be frugal.

In developed countries, innovation is traditionally based on the ever-increasing use of resources. But there is a major problem. Staying competitive when energy and raw materials are becoming increasingly scarce. Navi Radjou and Dr. Jaideep Prabhu have a solution: Jugaad innovation - also known as frugal innovation.

Their inspiration was fueled by the practices seen in emerging countries – in particular in India - to conceptualized a new development model: innovation with minimal resources. They wrote an inspirational book about it and take their message to companies in Silicon Valley, where Navi Radjou has now established his stronghold.

"Jugaad" is a popular Hindi term meaning "the ability to design ingenious solutions under difficult conditions". An approach that is naturally followed in India, as well as in other developing countries such as China, Kenya and Brazil. Given the limited resources available to them, they invent simple solutions.

For example, in rural India where there is no electricity, a potter came up with the idea of inventing a clay fridge for storing food. Now famous, his Mitticool fridge system has spread all over the country.

Jugaad innovation is the art of doing more with less – a system based on people’s resourcefulness that Navi Radjou and Dr. Jaideep Prabhu would like to apply to Western economies.

They believe that innovating with less doesn’t mean compromising on quality. It’s more a question of liberating creativity and focusing on efficiency. With the Jugaad spirit human ingenuity becomes the main driver in innovation.

In France, some companies have already gone into Jugaad mode. In this book, the leaders of L'Oreal, Siemens, Air Liquide and Accenture share their experiences and what they’ve learned.

Testimonials that would suggest that Jugaad innovation could shift the West into a new economic paradigm - a paradigm heavily loaded with ingenious, inexpensive solutions, but most importantly efficient in the use of energy and raw materials.