Jugaad is a Hindi word which roughly translates as "frugal innovation". The concept of jugaad comes from a type of vehicle by the same name, powered by diesel engines originally designed to run agricultural irrigation pumps. Wikipedia reports that these vehicles cost less than $US2,000 and can carry more than 20 people at a time, although they are used to transport a wide range of cargo, from steel rods to school kids. These vehicles go unregistered and untaxed.
In this era, where the MBA has become a producer of people who are necessarily content-free in their ways of talking and thinking, the concept of jugaad has become commodified and is now for sale. A book called Jugaad Innovation is being touted as the latest 'must read’ for CEOs. According to its sales pitch, the book (http://jugaadinnovation.com/) will "challenge the very way a traditional organisation thinks and acts".
"Leading companies", such as Facebook, GE, Google, PepsiCo, Philips, Renault-Nissan, and Siemens are now apparently using this philosophy to "innovate, be flexible, and do more with less". Jugaad will help them achieve "breakthrough growth in this complex and resource-scarce world". If people can believe in the notion of "fighting for peace" (how many "wars to end all wars" have there been already?) then the idea that frugality can be recruited to bolster the profits of major multinational corporations will be embraced without a whimper.
If you hadn't heard of jugaad before now, the next mention for you is probably not too far away. If you have read this far, then let's see how long before one of Australia's Vice-Chancellors adopts jugaad as a new guiding concept for running an institution of higher education. Or is it already in use? Please let me know (email@example.com). I'm sure many of you have, without realising it already, adopted the jugaad philosophy of producing creative solutions in the face of the manufactured resource-scarcity in Australia's higher education industry.
This column was first published by the NTEU here