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Jugaad ≈ Agile

The Indian concept of jugaad, aka jugaar, can have interesting and subtle meanings for product development and management. I was recently reminded of jugaad from a post by Vinit Nijhawan on “India’s Innovation Front Lines 2009 (Part 1): Of “Jugaar” and A Quick Recovery from Global Recession”.

Vinit states: “Jugaar means to cobble together a solution to a problem quickly and with no planning.”

There appear to be multiple definitions of “jugaad”. Jugaad can mean the inventiveness of being able to build something useful from available parts on hand, or can mean a resulting makeshift vehicle used in rural India that was jury rigged from available parts.

Because the definitions of “jugaad”, like “jury rigged”, can have the connotation of “inadequate except as a temporary repair”, it tends to be denigrated. Instead, jugaad could be viewed more objectively as a form of agile development process, and as the extreme antithesis to a traditional serial planned development process. As such, it offers another perspective on development process objectives.

Innovation inherently needs a sense of jugaad — the ability to make something new, the ability to build on what is available, the ability to make progress despite obstacles.

Vinit said: “[Jugaad] can be advantageous in fast-changing, or shall we say chaotic, environments. The dotcom era was just such a period, and Indian-American entrepreneurs, especially in Silicon Valley, thrived.”

Much of the development that occurs in innovation seems consistent with the notion of jugaad. For example, come up with an idea, quickly put together some equipment from hosting or cloud services or put up a rough website, begin engaging with your users, see what works, see what needs refining, repeat and do this in rapid cycles. I see this occur successfully in many development and startup settings. And, I continue to believe that innovation by its nature requires an agile development process. In contrast, startup efforts that apply too many traditional constraints in development process, product features, and/or organization often fail.


Vinit Nijhawan. India’s Innovation Front Lines 2009 (Part 1): Of “Jugaar” and A Quick Recovery from Global Recession. Xconomy, 12/21/09.

Alternate spellings: Jhugaad, Jhugad, Jugaar, Jugad, Jugadh, Juggaad, Juggad.

jugaad — n. an improvised or jury-rigged solution; inventiveness, ingenuity, cleverness. Subjects: Hindi, India


Jury Rig — “Jury rigging refers to makeshift repairs or temporary contrivances, made with only the tools and materials that happen to be on hand. Originally a nautical term, on sailing ships a jury rig is a replacement mast and yards improvised in case of damage or loss of the original mast.”

Additional Updated References

What the West Can Learn from Jugaad. Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, and Simone Ahuja. strategy+business, 2012.11.19.

Jugaad: Lessons in Frugal Innovation. Mitali Sharma. 2012.02.27.

Use Jugaad to Innovate Faster, Cheaper, Better. Navi Radjou; Jaideep Prabhu; Simone Ahuja. 2011.12.08.

India’s Indigenous Genius: Jugaad. Devita Saraf. India Journal / WSJ. 2009.07.13.

India’s Indigenous Genius: Jugaad, Part 2. Devita Saraf. India Journal / WSJ. 2009.07.15.

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