Like most children, I loved going to my grandparents’ house. But once the tea, biscuits, and – if I was lucky – a slice of my grandmother’s homemade Victoria sponge had been served, with a nod of his head, my grandfather would give the cue for us to leave the rest of the family in the living room and enter the magical world of his garage.
For a nine-year old boy, this was nothing less than sheer joy. The collection of saws, screwdrivers, and hammers, the seemingly random assortment of nails and screws of every shape and size, and the odds and ends of wood stacked up against the garage wall, were a thing of both beauty and wonder.
Amidst all of this organized chaos were my grandfather’s unfinished experiments, painstakingly constructed out of the bits and pieces he would compulsively hoard – a wooden tea chest and old pram wheels had all the makings of a go-kart, a broom handle dressed up in old clothes and shiny aluminium milk bottles tops made for a handsome scarecrow, and a metal condensed milk tin was used to patch up the rusty exhaust pipe of his old car.
An automation-first mentality
Of course, in India, this is nothing new – it’s a way of life. In a country where washing machines are repurposed to whip up yogurt drinks, the word “jugaad” epitomizes finding a low-cost and inventive solution to any problem – doing more with less, implementing quickly, and fabulous creativity to drive innovation in the face of cost pressures and adversity.
It can also serve as a metaphor for how automation is enabling a two-speed transformation approach to your business operations
- Replacing people-led layers that have built up over time around your legacy core with layers of functionality driven by an automation-first mentality enables organizations to release value quickly. These process layers don’t detract from your core systems, but enhance the core, with people acting as exception-handlers. Intelligent automation and AI present new types of functionality that can be harnessed to address business solutions in a completely different way.
- Even if the business case exists to carry out major change to your big systems, it will take a time – probably a lot of time, and your business can’t afford to stand still. You need to be able to make positive progress by implementing lots of smaller transformations, some of which will be strategic, some will be quick wins that release short-term value, while others will be transient patches implemented as a stop-gap.
Make progress, deliver value
The “jugaad” mentality is about getting the job done as quickly and effectively as possible with what’s available to you. In this case, it’s about leveraging intelligent automation and AI to wrap around existing applications – augmenting and enhancing them, and generating exciting ways to improve process execution.
Nowadays, more than ever, speed of change is the imperative. Organizations need to adapt quickly to uncertain circumstances. We want sophistication, but we don’t want over-engineered products that take an age to deliver. It’s about making progress, getting a solution up and running, and creating value.
Jugaad is a metaphor for injecting innovation into your business operations, using new functionalities to help solve a problem in a different way. It can serve as an excellent lesson in innovation for the world of automation outsourcing.
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Lee Beardmore has spent over two decades advising clients on best strategies for technology adoption. More recently, he has been leading the push in AI and intelligent automation as the CTO for Capgemini’s Business Services. Lee is a computer scientist by education, a technologist at heart, and has a wealth of cross-industry experience.