I learned about the word “jugaad” while studying engineering at my alma mater in India. We used to use it while speaking in my native language Hindi and when faced with a situation that would have required extreme creativity towards solving a real-life problem. In college days that creativity used to be around limited money that we all, as students, used to have. Now when I reflect back, “jugaad” was nothing but the unconscious application of creativity in finding solutions to problems under extreme economic conditions and scarcity of resources. In essence “jugaad” implied acting lean to creatively solve problems or “frugal innovation” as many pundits may call it. We as human beings are innately creative and innovative, it’s just that over time we tend to lose this connection with ourselves. Also sometimes abundance makes us less creative – a must for innovation. There is no surprise that many innovations, despite the scarcity of resources, come from developing and third world countries.

I am appreciating even more now all creativity that my grandmother demonstrated while raising 6 children in rural India and as a single parent. It’s not difficult to find simple solutions to complex problems, sometimes just by reflecting on outcomes from individual’s actions, in our lives and how they managed it all under extreme conditions and constraints. And the reason what all we have today, something that they couldn’t afford, is because of their actions, sometimes astonishingly creative and innovative.

Like my grandmother, each one of us can learn about innovation from individuals who may have influenced us in many different positive ways.