Six Principles American Businesses Should Embrace from Indian Ingenuity and Resourcefulness

In India, the concept of finding an innovative fix by frugal means is synonymous with the colloquial Hindi term, "jugaad." As a common practice in everyday life for Indians, western companies are now embracing "jugaad" for better management techniques. Reducing costs while yielding high-value results is timely for today’s global economic climate, and India is fast gaining recognition for being the pioneer in this thought movement.

Authors Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja of Jugaad Innovation share insights and stories on the six key principles of "jugaad" that businesses can adopt to improve their practice. Navi Radjou and Simone Ahuja will appear Friday, June 8 at 12:00 pm at Asia Society New York in Jugaad Innovation: Reigniting American Ingenuity.

Those who can't attend the event are invited to tune into a free live webcast at 12:00 pm (ET) at

Asia Blog spoke to the authors of Jugaad Innovation by email.

Principle 1: Seeking Opportunity in Adversity

Potter Mansukhbhai Prajapati created a 100% biodegradable clay refrigerator that required no electricity. By reusing a resource he knew best, coping with hot climate conditions of his village where electricity was unreliable, and taking affordability into consideration, Prajapati created a clay refrigerator enterprise, MittiCool, which is now sold all over India and internationally. (See video):

Jugaad Innovation in Action - MittiCool from Blood Orange on Vimeo.

Principle 2: Doing More with Less
At Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) in Bangalore, the R&D team collaborated to develop a Fetal Heart Monitor (FHM) using low-cost microphone technology to monitor the heart rate of fetuses in the womb. The special microphones were developed as an alternative to the expensive, ultrasound technology which is mostly accessible in advanced nations.

Principle 3: Think and Act Flexibly
Embrace, an organization founded to serve vulnerable babies in developing countries, redesigned their infant warmer after realizing the practical limitations from their initial prototype. Embrace ultimately invented a $200 portable infant warmer as an alternative to the $20,000 incubators used in the West. (See video):

Embrace from Linus Liang on Vimeo.

Principle 4: Keep it Simple
GE Healthcare created Vscan, a portable ultrasound device the size of a smartphone or iPod. As a lightweight handheld device, it could be transported to various hospital settings more easily and diagnoses are expedited. Vscan also uses the familiar technology of a battery charger and a USB docking port. (See video):

Vscan on YouTube.

Principle 5: Include the Margin
YES Bank founder, Rana Kapoor employed the inclusive principle by providing microloans directly to 600 million poor unbanked customers. By using a sustainable business model, YES Bank created partnerships with a mobile payment technology company and a mobile phone company to allow for underserved Indians to transfer money via their mobile phones.

Principle 6: Follow your Heart
As MD of Solar Electric Light Company (SELCO), Harish Hande delivered solar energy to more than 200,000 rural households across India. Hande’s current mission, to raise a $10-million fund to seed other enterprises in sustainable energy, is done by engaging with social investors with the same passion for providing light for the rural poor. (See video):

SELCO India on YouTube.

This post originally appeared on Asia Blog.