8 Steps to Innovation: Going from Jugaad to Excellence
Vinay Dabholkar & Rishikesha T. Krishnan
I have a confession to make. The cover led me to believe that this was another one of those innovation cookbooks by two opportunistic wannabe Jugaad aficionados (I still have a huge problem with the cover design in that it is trying hard to impress while succeeding to do just the opposite). The first chapter could only reinforce my belief that here was another version of the many ‘product improvement through R&D is innovation’ treatises that are strewn about ever since innovation became a fashion label. Am I glad that I persisted, if only to collect enough ammunition to tear it to shreds. Surprise, surprise! The book is not only an easy read but is a good resource for organizations that want to understand how to carry out innovation.
The authors give out two clear messages –
(1) that everybody can innovate,
(2) innovation success is less about isolated creative sparks than a concerted approach both to motivate the elephant (incentive) and direct the driver (clarity).
The continuing financial Tsunami has ceased to make waves. We ought to have seen it coming but were too scared to open our eyes. Like we’ve done in the past – all we’ve ever learnt to do is to solve problems based on ‘fitting historical patterns’ – we believe that we’re at the bottom of the economic downturn and things will look up from here on. Anybody noticed that the slide has been going on since September 11, 2001? And we’re satisfied waiting. The time for innovation is here and is urging us to do something – differently.
Talk to technology and business people and they will tell you that innovation is a tool. Therefore researching a need and then developing a solution to address it is called innovation. Then why call it innovation, why not keep calling it R&D? Are we simply using the word because it sounds nicer? Continue reading “Innovation, Now!”
This post is meant for those of you who have set up automated alerts for the new magic word ‘Jugaad’, the most fashionable innovation thread about India these days. Several innovation ‘gurus’, management experts, authors have latched on. The common thread – they’re mostly based in the US and are of Indian origin. The more equal of us. Keith Sawyer calls it a ‘fad from India’ and that’s exactly what it is.
Business Week* reports on a management fad from India, that goes by a Hindi slang word, jugaad (say joo-gaardh). It means “an improvisational style of innovation”. It’s “inexpensive invention on the fly”. It sometimes has negative connotations, like cutting corners. The idea is that it doesn’t have to be perfect or fancy; it’s just good enough to satisfy immediate needs.
>>*See the comments at the end of the article.
Don’t be fooled – Jugaad is jugaad and innovation is innovation. Jugaad is a dangerous mindset – you heard right, a mindset. You ‘fix’ things by simply putting together bits and pieces, never mind that they don’t fit or that the final product is unreliable, unsafe, whatever. When something goes wrong, you can always use the excuse of not having time, resources, skills, etc. After all you did achieve ‘cheap’, didn’t you.
I’ve been getting this crazy urge to write a book. I’m hoping it will make me famous – isn’t that what a book is supposed to do for its author anyway. And I’m going to be innovative like the rest of them authors. The title? Innovation of course. It’s going to be a cakewalk I know, since I have all the basic ingredients.
So here’s my book recipe. In the beginning I’ll talk about nebulous concepts and indirectly accuse the reader for being so ignorant. I’ll tell her what she already knows and hide behind some easy facades. To succeed at innovation, you have to be creative, I’ll tell her. Creativity, for as far as I can see, means simply to be different from the rest. Doesn’t matter if you create any value or not, you must speak with authority, wear something outlandish, pierce your ears and other parts of your body, throw sarcastic glances at lesser beings and have some pictures of you appear while at a fashion do. It’s really that simple.
In the next chapter, I’ll talk about the basic concepts of innovation. Patents, R&D improvements, process optimisation, software tools, collaboration, disruption – I need to do this to add credibility to my claims as the author of a book on innovation. If readers haven’t seen through other authors, I won’t get found out will I?
Having laid the foundations, I can now preach about the value of innovation and build some theoretical frameworks (read fancy graphical templates). I’ll bring in business jargon to validate that innovation is the need of the hour and how it will be our saviour in these times. Words like Strategy, Culture, Processes and Growth will sound quite impressive to the readership. They always have!
And now for the best part of my book writing strategy. (Remember, I will need a publisher.) So here’s what I plan to do. I’ll spend a few months ‘compiling’ the references by surfing the Internet and put together a Bibliography citing from already famous authors and institutions. That way I’ll know which are the best ‘hooks’ to piggyback on. For example, if I slipped in references of Walmart’s innovative business model, Peter Drucker‘s quotes on innovation, Nandan Nilakeni’s future project and also requoted some famous innovation authors’ books, I would have a surefire formula to target the bestseller list. These days, to be original, you don’t even have to hide your sources. Sometimes it helps to be upfront about plagiarism because nobody would suspect you. How innovative is that?!
Context? Who said anything about my being responsible for context? It’s your context isn’t it? My job is only to write and it’s your job to figure out how to apply my thoughts to your contexts.
So dear readers, please point me to your publisher friends. Any publishers out there that are reading my blog may send me an advance to write yet another book on the hackneyed topic of innovation. Because I’m all ready to write a book. Minor issue that I have nothing new to add. Writing is all about style anyway!
Today’s Economic Times carries an article (How to manage through a crisis) by Arun Maira. My highlights in colour below …
Arun Maira, Senior Advisor – BCG India.
The difficulty is in determining what should be cut-back to get through the immediate crisis with least effect on the future prospects of the business. While Telco was in the midst of a large
capital expenditure program to expand its design and production facilities in Pune in the early 1980s the truck market went into recession. Finances became tight. The board had to consider whether to reduce the bonus to employees or reduce dividends to shareholders. One view was that since the company could not disappoint investors whose support it needed through the crisis, dividends must be maintained and cuts made elsewhere — in the bonuses and benefits of employees perhaps. An opposing view was that the company needed the dedication of its employees more than ever in tough times and hence the company could not afford to demoralise them.