Jugaad - a tale of blind data.



One week ago I went out with two new friends from Maker's Asylum. We got to this small restaurant in the Roman District, a small area north of Mumbai with fake "roman style" buildings, and we launched an interesting discussion around cultural diversity, capitalism, education and a bit of politics.

Besides stories of Indians reporting only 30-40% of real market value for real estate transactions, or that only about 50 million people out of the total workforce have an employment agreement, one particular story stood out - my friends' comments on "India's Innovation Index".

Turns out, the core thesis used to measure a country innovativeness, focuses on 3 indicators:

  1. University ranking;
  2. Patents filed;
  3. Citations in research papers;  

The truth is, in countries like India, China, Brazil or West African region, the real innovation does no fit either of these criteria. It's happening on the ground, in small communities or slams, driven by real needs and powered by micro enterprises.

In India for example, there is a whole movement for lifehack type of products and services. They call it Jugaad, also known in the West as Frugal innovation. You will be amazed to discover that Jugaad is happening across all industries - education system, art initiatives, medical hardware, logistics and transportation, payment solutions, farming and so on. You got the idea. 

To exemplify what I mean, below you can view a TED talk on the topic of Jugaad / Frugal innovation.

Notes to self:

  1. Behind data on developing countries there are wonderful humans, and they make awesome things, sometimes off the radar. You've got to meet them and listen to their stories. Just shut up an listen. 
  2. I was in the audience at TEDxSummit 2012, in Qatar, when Vinay (video above) delivered his talk. Funny how you can connect the dots afterward.