Sunday, December 06, 2009

India's Next Global Export: Innovation - BusinessWeek

Businessweek writes about India's new Innovation mantra, Jugaad - 'arrange it somehow' - and how this is entering the lexicon of mainstream business and how Global companies are taking advantage of it.

My own view is that there is a bit of stereotyping involved here. I have seen Western executives comment on the 'resilience' of Indians, who must go on despite the poor infrastructure and an usually obstructive government. One would remember a scene from the brilliant independent film, Outsourced, where a call centre goes on working despite being submerged by flood water, by simply shifting its staff to the open terrace and 'hooking' electricity from the distribution poles. That is 'Jugaad' at its best.

However, I am not sure that is all there is in Indian innovation. While the 'resilience' is essential, it is not right to say that shortcuts are universal, which the article seems to imply.

If there is one defining feature of Indian innovation, it is this: Indians are innovating for a new market. Call it Bottom of The Pyramid, though by definition, it is still not at the bottom, but still the middle class, just the non-consumers. Being dominated by 'government families', it is an enormously value sensitive market. So, Indian business thinking keeps 'value' first. Indian pricing philosophy is how cheap can I sell this to rather than figuring out what the market can pay, and all cost-related decisions flow from there. And, finally, the 'never say die' spirit, the resilience, the assume nothing approach to get things done.

India's Next Global Export: Innovation - BusinessWeek: "India's Next Global Export: Innovation
Called jugaad, India's improvisational style of invention focuses on being fast and cheap—attributes just right for these times"

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