First, you have to ful­ly under­stand that Gus­ta­vo Grobo­co­pa­tel and his fam­i­ly, liv­ing in Argenti­na, start­ed with noth­ing, real­ly. He had nei­ther enor­mous land hold­ings, abun­dant cap­i­tal, legions of work­ers, exten­sive access to ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists, caches of win­ning lot­tery tick­ets nor undis­cov­ered reser­voirs of gold or oil in his back­yard. All he real­ly had was a dream.

Gus­ta­vo Grobocopatel’s sto­ry is told in strategy+business by Navi Rad­jou, Jaideep Prab­hu, and Simone Ahu­ja – three authors who cre­at­ed the s+b arti­cle in the Novem­ber 19, 2012, issue by adapt­ing part of their recent book. If you have not read Jugaad Inno­va­tion: Think Fru­gal, Be Flex­i­ble, Gen­er­ate Break­through Growth (Jossey-Bass, 2012), put it on your list of good hol­i­day books to enjoy.

Grobo­co­pa­tel (as you night have guessed) became a huge suc­cess sto­ry. I’ll jump to the career crescen­do as described in the arti­cle: “Grobocopatel’s com­pa­ny, Los Grobo, which the entre­pre­neur found­ed in 1984, has evolved rapid­ly from a ver­ti­cal­ly inte­grat­ed fam­i­ly busi­ness to an asset-light com­pa­ny. In 2010, it became the sec­ond-largest grain pro­duc­er in Latin Amer­i­ca, farm­ing more than 300,000 hectares, trad­ing 3 mil­lion tons of grain per year, and gen­er­at­ing US$750 mil­lion in rev­enue — all with­out own­ing land or a sin­gle trac­tor or har­vester.”

How he did that is, accord­ing to the authors, by using a “Jugaad” approach. Again, from the arti­cle: “Jugaad is a col­lo­qui­al Hin­di word that rough­ly trans­lates as ‘an inno­v­a­tive fix for your busi­ness; an impro­vised solu­tion born from inge­nu­ity and clev­er­ness’. It is based on six oper­at­ing prin­ci­ples: seek oppor­tu­ni­ty in adver­si­ty, do more with less, think and act flex­i­bly, keep every­thing about the busi­ness sim­ple, tap the mar­gins of soci­ety for employ­ees and cus­tomers, and fol­low your heart.” The authors also note that the con­cept seems to be much stronger in emerg­ing mar­kets; the authors’ mis­sion seems to be, in part, con­vinc­ing West­ern com­pa­nies and entre­pre­neurs of the mer­its of Jugaad.

communicationI like what they have to say. Their arti­cle and book dis­cuss­es how a resilient mind­set can trans­form scarci­ty into oppor­tu­ni­ty by com­bin­ing lim­it­ed resources with inven­tive­ness. They also are wise to urge that com­pa­nies incor­po­rate Jugaad into their for­mal R&D process­es. They are not say­ing that Jugaad should sup­plant the approach­es to inno­va­tion already in place, but they do point out the lim­i­ta­tions of such for­mal ways of think­ing about the future.

In my own expe­ri­ence with nextsens­ing, I repeat­ed­ly have seen the val­ue of “think­ing dif­fer­ent­ly”, which is the main val­ue of con­sid­er­ing Jugaad in your own life and work, Not only can inge­nu­ity and clev­er­ness be trans­ferred from east-to-west but so can entire prod­uct-ser­vice inno­va­tions that were orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed in scarci­ty envi­ron­ments. The devel­oped world will nev­er be ful­ly devel­oped all by itself.

With an increas­ing access to, and exchange with, nov­el and dis­tinct cul­tures, the oppor­tu­ni­ties for future suc­cess are lim­it­ed only by our col­lec­tive abil­i­ties to think dif­fer­ent­ly.

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