With Emmanuel Macron as president and his party winning a decisive majority in recent parliamentary elections, France’s ailing economy may finally receive a shot in the arm. Investors hope Macron can deliver on his promises to relax stringent labour laws and curb public spending. But the sad fact is even these ideas are not nearly radical enough to help France compete globally and win, in particular, in today’s digital economy.
I've spent my career studying innovation. What has struck me over the years is how differently large Western corporations and innovators in emerging markets like India, where I grew up, approach it.
“Jugaad” is the Hindi word for finding low-cost solutions in an intelligent way, and “jugaad innovation” is a term to describe three common traits of Indian entrepreneurs. First, Indian entrepreneurs are very frugal in their approach, very good at doing more with the limited resources they have. Second, their mindset is very flexible. There is a lot of improvisation and lateral—creative, nonlinear—thinking. And third, their solutions seem designed to bring people who are outside the formal economy into the formal economy, so these solutions are very inclusive.
Inequality is the defining social, political and economic phenomenon of our time. Just 1% of the world’s population now holds over 35% of all private wealth, more than the bottom 95% combined. Bad as this may seem, trends suggest that the situation will only get worse. Addressing it will involve multiple strategies working together, but one which is less well understood is how simple, affordable solutions to people’s problems can make a genuine difference from the bottom up.
Human creativity is a natural, infinitely renewable resource — and it’s coming up with smart, cheap solutions to people’s biggest problems. Strategist Navi Radjou explains.
If an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty, then the developing world must be filled with optimists. There, people have learned to get more value from limited resources and find creative ways to reuse what they already have.
Q: What is frugal or jugaad innovation?
A: Frugal innovation is trying to use ingenuity to do more or better with less. Whenever you face resource constraints, you have to use your ingenuity and think about how to solve problems or meet needs using the resources that are available to you.