India can tell the world to ‘Do Better With Less’

Ronendra Singh | | Updated on: Apr 14, 2019

The West can learn a lot from India, say Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu, co-authors of Do Better With Less – Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Growth .

According to them, Indians do things straight from the heart, even if it it is research and development (R&D), while in the West, R&D engineers tend to be remote from the user.

Starting with “India can lead the world with frugal innovation,” the book is somewhat of a continuation of their first book, Jugaad Innovation , talking about how India can harness three megatrends — the sharing economy, the maker movement and disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing.

Do Better With Less revolves around six principles of frugal innovation with case studies and examples on how companies and entrepreneurs focus around their businesses and giving back to our planet, as well.

The six principles are engage and iterate; flex your assets; create sustainable solutions; shape customer behaviour; co-create value, and make innovative friends.

Talking about the book, Radjou says, “Companies tend to centralise all the R&D in the West. And over the last 15 years, we have noticed how more multinationals are bringing R&D to the emerging markets, particularly India and China, because this is where the market is. What we found most intriguing is that most of these companies set up their development centres here.”

At first, multinational companies did not realise the potential of India, but today they look at ‘India as a source’ and that the country can be a ‘secret weapon’ to build an inclusive society and be a role model for the rest of the world.

The writers have given diverse examples of companies ranging from the car and pharma industry to start-ups that have understood human values. They have also given guidelines that can help senior managers identify and prioritise principles they can implement to achieve better results quickly.

“We have explained what companies should be thinking about how they innovate products, and also the business. But, equally, the implications for consumers and then helping consumers on what more to do better, with less,” says Prabhu.

The strategy

The authors say that around 5 per cent of companies in developed economies are advanced in their frugal innovation journey; 15 per cent have adopted frugal innovation in some parts of their organisation; and the remaining 80 per cent are yet to formulate a coherent and comprehensive frugal innovation strategy.

“Eighty per cent of the companies in the US, Europe and Japan that are yet to embark on the frugal innovation journey or have taken only a few small steps in that direction, should consider kick-starting their frugal innovation engines without delay,” they write.

By adopting the six principles expounded in this book, Indian companies, entrepreneurs and policymakers can also help build a world-leading ‘frugal economy’ that maximises the well-being and potential of its 1.3 billion people, they add.

Published on April 14, 2019
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