We are currently living in times of economic difficulty in many of the world’s financial systems, something that has a direct impact on companies faced with the challenge of continued innovation with far less resources than what they had at their disposal until now. What to do? Probably the only thing we can do: continue to innovate using whatever resources we have, or even with no resources at all.
In his blog, Javier Megias shares an interesting perspective under “Scarcity is the foundation of innovation (because necessity is the mother of invention)” Some may not agree with the statement, but there are an increasing number of examples that seem to prove it correct.
The following is a small extract from his post regarding an increasingly popular concept, “frugal innovation”:
“A movement arose some years ago in India that has come to be called frugal innovation or inverse innovation and that is based on the concept of jugaad, a pioneering attitude that one could translate as “make the best of what you have”, which in a broad sense refers to:
Using an alternative option or path, or improvising in order to rapidly solve a problem without resources.
This philosophy is behind the creation of products that were considered unfeasible beforehand, such as a car for $2,500 or a portable electrocardiogram that costs $1,000 (when the price of a normal one is $10,000)… working on the basis that there are few resources and some restrictions (money, portability…) rather than starting off by summing up the cost of materials and adding the profit margin.”
Google has also written on this concept in “Jugaad Innovation: How to Disrupt-it-Yourself”, another name for Frugal Innovation. The key therefore lies in being capable of applying the jugaad philosophy in the business world and turning a circumstance that results in scarce resources and funding into a driving force rather than an obstacle, helping us improve the product or service by eliminating everything that is actually superfluous and dispensable, and looking for alternative solutions that may very well be far more creative while making us focus more clearly on our objective.
If you are interested in reading further on the subject, you can find the book by Indian Professor Jaideep Prabhu “Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth” online.