Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Frugal Innovation: Lessons from Emerging Markets

At the Front End of Innovation 2013, we had a chance to chat with Navi Radjou, Co-author of the best-seller Jugaad Innovation and From Smart to Wise, about his session on Frugal Innovation: Lessons from Emerging Markets.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Creativity Can be Taught and Systemized. Here's How...

Boosting Creative Capacity: A Misunderstood Method, Team Sport and Teachable Skill

By Marc Dresner, IIR

Innovation. It’s no luxury. It’s an indispensable cost of staying in business today.

The average lifespan of a Fortune-class company has been dropping at an alarming rate. Categories and industries have been decimated almost overnight.

Lean Six Sigma, Agile and other methodologies can slash inefficiencies and speed us up, but they don’t drive innovation; they only support it. 

And speed alone can get us nowhere fast.

No. Excepting the happy accident, creativity is the fount of all innovation and genuine progress in almost every field of human endeavor. 

William J. Greenwald
And for companies, creative aptitude has become a matter survival.

The good news, according to William Greenwald, is that creativity isn’t so squishy or ethereal as we’ve been led to believe. Creativity can be systematized.

Furthermore, he says it needn't and shouldn't be the exclusive domain of agency-type specialists and hipster magicians with quirky titles like “Senior Idea Juicer.”

As it happens, Greenwald's own job title, Chief Neuroleaderologist,” kinda screams “I am creative,” and he's an authority in the field.  

His consultancy, the Windsor Leadership Group, specializes in executive development and peak performance leadership coaching using an approach steeped in neuroscience.

“Creativity should be everyone’s job, because every business needs that creative muscle to compete.” 

“Creativity should be everyone’s job, because every business needs that creative muscle to compete in today’s environment,” Greenwald told Forward Focus.

He's not alone here. Business leaders recognize the power of hybrid and interdisciplinary thinking, and many top companies are aggressively exploring new ways to increase the creative output in their organizations.

Even MBA curricula are incorporating design thinking ("Strategic Design MBA" isn't an oxymoron at Philadelphia University, for instance).

Nonetheless, Greenwald says that many of his clients struggle with creativity—what it is, how to “do” it—and they often engage him to help them sort it out.

Greenwald insists that contrary to popular myth, creativity can be acquired.

“Creativity is not a talent that we’re born with; it’s a learned skill.”

“Creativity, like leadership, is a choice,” said Greenwald

“We choose to be creative or we don’t. It’s not a talent that we’re born with; it is a learned skill.”

In this podcast with Forward Focus—the official interview series of FEI 2014—we'll demystify creativity:

• Dispel  misconceptions

• Identify common stumbling blocks

• Provide a blueprint for organizations to systemize creativity and much more…

Editor’s note: William Greenwald will conduct a special workshop—“The Neuropsychology of Creativity and Design Thinking”—at the 12th Annual Front End of Innovation Conference May 13-15 in Boston.

For more information or to register for FEI 2014, please visit us at 

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at Follow him @mdrezz.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Integrating Open Innovation with Frugal Innovation

Navi Radjou, 2013 Thinkers50 Innovation Winner, Co-Author of Jugaad Innovation, recently notified us that Frugal Innovation can be seen as a new approach pioneered in the Global South:

Jugaad is the resilient art of detecting opportunities in the most adverse situations and resourcefully improvising ingenious solutions with limited means. Jugaad goes by different names in various emerging markets: Brazilians call it jeitinho; the Chinese refer to it as jiejian chuangxin (in contrast with shanzhai, which means copycat); the Kenyans call it jua kali. Whatever the name of its regional variants, the jugaad spirit shows that developing nations can devise original solutions on their own to solve local problems.
The frugal innovation model – enabled by an ingenious jugaad mindset – pioneered in African, Latin American and developing Asian countries debunks “the North invents, the South copies” myth by providing a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to the West’s resource-intensive and increasingly limited innovation model. In striking contrast with the expensive, rigid and elitist Western approach to research and development, frugal innovation minimizes resource use, allows for greater flexibility, and facilitates greater collaboration and engagement by local communities.


Frugal innovation – the ability to create more value with fewer resources – is making its way into Western economies through many channels. To begin with, a new generation of entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Europe are upending industry business models by providing Western consumers with alternative, affordable and sustainable products and services. Inspired in part by their peers in Nairobi, Bangalore and Sao Paulo, Western entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, New York, Paris and London are adopting the core principles of frugal innovation – that is, they design “good enough” products and services, offering them to Western consumers using a flexible pricing model through an extensive network of partners.
For instance, BlaBlaCar has rapidly emerged as Europe’s leading car-sharing community. Launched in 2004 by three young entrepreneurs, BlaBlaCar provides passengers with a less expensive and more flexible alternative to traditional means of transportation such as trains. Operating in ten European countries, BlaBlaCar transports over 700,000 passengers every month – more than the number of passengers travelling on Eurostar, the high-speed train that connects London to Paris and Brussels. BlaBlaCar estimates that its drivers save £100 million annually every year and have avoided emitting 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
Paul Benoit, a brilliant French engineer and another frugal innovator who creates eco-friendly solutions, founded Qarnot Computing. It is a start-up that makes digital radiators equipped with microchips that are connected to the Internet. These networked processors can perform computations much faster and cheaper than more costly electricity-hungry data centres. This makes super-computer-like processing power affordable and accessible to the masses. Even better, the energy generated by these high-performance processors gets converted into free and eco-friendly heating for the commercial buildings and houses equipped with digital radiators. The French government is keen to partner with Qarnot Computing to integrate this sustainable solution into social housing projects.
Inspired by these entrepreneurs, leaders of Western companies are realizing that they must embrace frugal innovation models or risk losing their core markets in the US and Europe to nimble rivals able to provide affordable and sustainable solutions to cost-conscious and eco-aware consumers. As a result, several Western companies have begun to develop – or invest in – frugal solutions that deliver more value at less cost to Western consumers. For example, inspired by great success in selling shampoo and tea in inexpensive single-serve sachets in India, in Spain, Unilever now sells small Surf detergent packages for only five washes and is marketing mayonnaise and mashed potatoes in tiny packages in Greece. Similarly, PepsiCo is motivating its supply chain managers in the US and Europe to do better with less by emulating their frugal colleagues in developing nations such as India, where PepsiCo’s beverage plants generate two-fifths of their energy input from renewable sources like biomass and wind turbines.


Western companies could accelerate their frugal innovation strategy by following two initiatives. First, they could recruit a new generation of engineers and managers from leading Western universities. Indeed, top US universities such as MIT, Stanford, University of Cambridge, and the Hamburg University of Technology host training programs and research centers that train next-generation “frugal” engineers and managers. These academic centers disseminate new knowledge in the field of frugal innovation for the benefit of Western corporate leaders and policy makers. Second, Western multinationals could (and must) engage emerging economies, such as India, China, Africa, and Brazil, not simply as “markets” to sell existing products, but as “sources” of inspiration for radically new frugal solutions that could be co-developed and commercialized across both emerging as well as developed markets by leveraging global innovation networks (see Figure 1).

While emerging economies have already internalized the principles of frugal innovation, Western societies are slowly learning to master the art of doing more with less. In the coming years, as the global economy becomes more integrated, cooperation between the Global North and South will likely intensify, enabling greater two-way knowledge exchanges that accelerate and deepen the adoption of frugal innovation in developing and developed economies in a synergistic fashion. Frugal innovation is poised to become the unifying force in North-South engagement in the next decade.
*Repuplished by permission of the author from the original here
Editor's Note:
We invite you to explore Integrating Open Innovation with Frugal Innovation along with Navi Radjou at the 2014 Front End of Innovation taking place May 13-15th in Boston.

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