Some days back, I got my Flipkart order Jugaad Innovation at work and Vishu delighted me with this book Steal like an Artist at home. Interesting and contrasting- is how these books came across and I started reading them simultaneously. At a point, I got lost in Jugaad Innovation and got on to the great doodad to know more about the real life stories narrated in the book. While reading about them, I started understanding Steal like an Artist better and what I find- these books are interesting and connecting!
We stay in a grey world; things are no longer black or white. The famous Indian headshake, not yes, not no, but maybe, is always looking for a way out. Jugaad Innovation is a brilliant result of extensive research by Navi Rajdou, Jaideep Prabhu and Simone Ahuja. The book effectively brings out how the Indovation (Indian model of innovation) approach distinguishes winners from the also-rans.
The word ‘Jugaad’ has a certain ring to it- is does not just stand for innovation, it stands for innovating frugal, homespun and simple solutions. The authors have derived principles on modus operandi of Jugaad innovators: identify opportunity in adversity, understand the theory of constraints better than Eliyahu M. Goldratt and produce more with less, romance with instability and adaptation, focus on simplistic solutions, cover niche markets and most importantly, follow your heart.
Also, the book addresses creative tension between the yin (structured) and yang (unstructured) aspects of innovation. Both these aspects need to work cohesively to ensure that jugaad innovation does not become another word for manipulation and compromise in quality.
You pick up this book, you will get a peep into the interesting world of grassroot entrepreneurs, organizations and companies working towards creating customer-centric, affordable and environmentally sustainable solutions. They are making the world a better place.
Steal like an artist
There is pleasure and then there is absolute pleasure – when it comes to reading, this book will make you feel that difference.
Austin Kleon beautifully brings out the universal truth that nothing comes from nowhere. Getting influenced, stealing an idea, working upon it and making it a better idea is as original as original can be. And once you embrace this truth, it liberates you from the self-created pressure of being ‘completely’ original. The earlier that happens, the earlier you can experiment on how to make influence work for you.
And those of you, who feel that this act of stealing would make the world a dull and monotonous place, feel no fear. Because that, is never happening. Everyone has more than one influence in life, and the more curious you are as a person, the more influences you will gather on your way. Our ideas are a product of our influences, and no two living beings can have identical set of influences in life. Apply permutation and combination to the influences out there and you can imagine the endless possibilities of a new bubble coming up- everyday, every moment.
The book is more appealing than any other art book, because the author strikes the balance when he discusses why having routine is more important than having ample time, how hobbies make your work better, what role does financial freedom play in life and the importance of being a nice person.
If pleasure is associated with art, then what stops you from associating art with work? Whatever you do- build buildings, crunch numbers, run a store, consult people- injecting some art into your work life is never a bad idea.
And the la-la-la tone of this book sets as a good kick off. Don’t be surprised to catch yourself smiling through the lines and graphics in the book.
Connecting the dots…
Constraints – beauty or the beast
How do artists work?
The world of art sees freedom in limitations. Having all the colors in the palette and all the time in the world is enough to kill creativity. So if you have everything, you choose to leave out something. Yes, if constraints do not exist, you create them – that’s how important they are.
What about Jugaad innovators?
In the best world, where one have abundant opportunities and resources, a binary thinker or a lateral thinker share same chances to flourish. But you and I don’t stay in the best world. Here, it is required to know how to make the bumps work for you and how to work amidst constraints- that’s what makes Jugaad innovators outshine the others!
Every work has constraints and constraints are chaotic. But chaos has a lot to do with exploiting creativity. I don’t know how aware the Jugaad innovators are of the creative streak within them, but I very well know that it is there! As Jaime Lerner had rightly said, “Creativity starts when you cut a zero from your budget.”
Thus, you may think out of the box in your head, but when you need to create a whole new box, you need to put your head as well as heart into it. Artists love constraints, Jugaad innovators face constraints- either way, it works for them!
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
When there is mind-boggling diversity, low per capita income, red tapism and acute resource constraints, it becomes more important to have customer centric attitude for earning a margin. Research says that most of the time, customers do not care about the bells and the whistles. In such a scenario, the genius of a Jugaad entrepreneur lies in his ability to resist from making what he is ‘capable of’, focus on the core requirements and make what is ‘required’. Simplicity is the lynchpin of his product.
And guess what the late jazz star Charles Mingus had to say about creativity – “Creativity is more than just being different. Making the simple awesomely simple, that’s creativity.”
Simplicity is not a short-cut, it requires a lot of work behind the scenes. Infact, simplicity offers no space to cover ambiguity under the garbs of complexity. You need to be crystal clear in head in order to make anything simple.
I said earlier that constraints give rise to chaos and chaos exploits creativity. So where does simplicity fit in this chain? In the end, because that is where creativity makes things simple and does not let chaos implode under the sheer weight of its own madness.
And the name of the game is
L E A P.
At a point, the dear man Albus Dumbledore tells Harry “Of course this is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Jugaad entrepreneurs follow their beliefs. Artists follow their imagination. But when have beliefs and imagination worked on calculated risks? These people cannot be bonded by any set pattern for calling the shots. They thrive on passion.
And there is only one valuable thing in passion: the thing you cannot explain.
In the end, creating something is all in the name of the game. It is a lot bigger than us.