Thursday, December 31, 2009

'Jugaad' What does this New Management Lexicon Signifiy?

It came a bit of surprise to me when I learnt that 'Jugaad' (an Indian Hindi word) is making its way into management lexicons and McKinsey has been using it with its clients. 'Jugaad' has been something very obvious whenever I have employed it in my professional life. I never realized that it could be turned into a management concept. For those who wish to learn this supposedly the new management concept, like much of management concepts, 'Jugaad' is pure commonsense.

In India 'Jugaad' is often inspired by lack of resources and time. During the house-keeping, we could not find suitable size plastic bins in-house for odd-shape aircraft parts. Instead of waiting for procurement action, we just picked up the raw Aluminium sheets (Rejected and Quarantined) and turned them into suitable containers (with hinged covers, the hinges coming from non-moving stock of another aircraft program) in a single day. Similarly, some test equipments were made in a week with available materials saving time and money that would be lost in design and procurement action. In product design, often mock-up parts were made to try out new design concepts and evaluate their efficacy. My entrepreneur friend, developed a low-cost windmill in his small workshop with locally available material.
His design is more effective and cost-efficient than numerous others listed on web. The whole 'Jugaad' approach is very hands-on, resorted to when one wish to save time, material and money.

One may now wonder that how is it any different form 'Garage Works'. Well! it is the same to a great degree. However, Jugaad may extend further into other aspects of life. It further signifies ' achieving something with any means possible'. The passengers travelling on roofs of trains and buses, children playing cricket in constrained spaces with some additional rules like a direct hit on a wall is an 'Out' etc. The list would be endless. However, this term has negative connotations too. Giving bribe or leveraging high-placed connections to get some favour are also considered a 'Jugaad'. I would like to clarify that, I have not resorted to this extended use of this supposedly management concept.

So what managers can learn from 'Jugaad' with caveats of course. The first thing would be that inventions and innovation does not necessarily require a large capital and time outlay. Something which western corporations can use at these times of recession. Capital and other resources have always been in short supply in India and yet companies and entrepreneurs have found their way. The message is relatively simple and straight but its the caveats I would like to emphasis on. For instance, we had to take care that rejected Aluminium sheets do not by any mistake find their way into actual aircraft production. The make-shift test equipments are replaced by procuring more reliable and sturdy test-equipment as we move towards series production, rather than dragging that make-shift all along. Travelling on roof of buses and trains is risky and cannot be taken up as a hobby. Bribery and corruption is not an ethical mean of getting the work done.

Let 'Jugaad' be that word in management jargon which would remind one that innovation can be pursued cheaper and that too in lesser time. Before abandoning any development projects prematurely due to lack of funds, remind yourself 'There is always Jugaad'.


  1. What is the most successful "jugaad" of all times? The rescue of Apollo 13 mission. It had all the elements of "jugaad". Absolutely minimal resources. An out of the box solution putting these resources together. And finally it worked too.
    - Mukund Toro

  2. I agree. Apollo 13 remains the biggest rescue of our times and has everything improvisation, ingenuity, lack of resources and time. Application of 'Jugaad' to crisis management.