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Global Innovation - Part II

Global Innovation – Part II

| On 20, Jan 2008

Praveen Gupta

While going to India for participating in the convocation events at IIT, Chicago’s Bangalore campus, I was supposed to travel from Chicago to Newark, and then catch the international flight to Delhi. Due to the size and cost associated with the international flights they are rarely canceled. Same, however, is not true for domestic travel. Canceling domestic flights appears to be an employee’s play at major airlines. Chicago is known for surprising weather conditions; my flight to Newark was delayed beyond catching the international flight to Delhi. Seeing the opportunity to participate in a business event evaporating in the freezing conditions, I asked the customer service supervisor to find a way to get me to Delhi. Being a frequent traveler, I should not have expected anything beyond a standard answer anyway. So, I did get the standard answer, “All flights were oversold. Sorry!”  After canceling my reservation at the gate, I rushed to the ticket counter and made a plea to endorse my flight with another airlines from Chicago to Delhi, as that would be the only way I could go and attend my events. I was told that the ticket agent could not override decision made at the gate by a supervisor there. However, if his manager approved, the agent could work with. I quickly asked for the manager, and luckily the manager turned out to be the nice person. He said he had no problem if the agent could find one seat for you at any airlines.


Jugad (Joo gaard) Technology

It turned out the agent happened to be from Indian subcontinent. He was glad to help me get to Delhi, and promised he would apply the Jugad. I have heard this word before in Hindi, but never gave any significance to it. Now, it was going to help me, I paid attention. Jugad means really a combinatorial play acted out by street smart people for quickly solving a problem. Sales guys are very good at creating combinations that can sell. If one does not fly, the other one is promptly lands in front of the customer. Comedians call it improvisation. It is to come up with new funny lines by putting two or more unrelated things together. Any unique combination of two or more things is called Jugad, or simply the creativity.

When the ticket agent said, let me do the Jugad, he must have meant let me be creative to find a flight for me to Delhi. To my amazement, he found a seat on a overbooked flight at the other airlines, that too non-stop to Delhi from Chicago instead of going to Newark, NJ. I thought, WOW! Jugad works! It really meant creativity on demand works! Customers love it.

During my stay in India, I tried to understand better what Jugad meant to people in India. I understood that when resources are limited, an optimum solution has to be found, Jugad (creativity) must be applied. Even TRIZ says that when conflicting situation exists, inventive problem solving methods must be practiced. In India, even with a growing economy, resources are limited for a common citizen to meet their daily needs. When people have to struggle to survive they must think differently, must practice Jugad.

Similarly, in business world, when organization has to succeed in order to survive, it must encourage Jugad, i.e., employee creativity at all levels. I have identified Fundamental, Platform, Derivative, and Variation types of innovation in my earlier articles or columns here. Jugad is more like Variation type of innovation, where one must find an innovative solution quickly through combinatorial play. This requires ability to process information fast either mentally or using technology.

One of the example that is cited often in India of Jugad technology is a vehicle people have come up to meet their transportation needs. A common entrepreneur puts together an engine of a tractor, frame of a bullock cart, look of a vintage American car, and cover of a rickshaw. It does not mean that same vehicle would work in any other country or circumstances. However, the message is there. Find a way to put together whatever is available to develop a solution that meets your need. I believe we are moving in that direction with increasing oil prices, global 24×7 customers, diffusion of jobs, and depleting resources.

Let’s be prepared to be creative on the fly, and innovate on demand for ourselves, and for our customers. Everyone wins with Jugad! To see Jugad live, click here.