Nov 2, 2010

Indian Ingenuity, jugaad and customer support

Indian Ingenuity or 'jugaad' as it is locally known is now a globally accepted term and philosophy. It features in the HBR and the management gurus and media love discussing at lenght whether the jugaad mindset is helping India & indians grow economically or does this mindset reinforce the constraints that first led to the birth of this way of working and therefore keep us living in compromised situations. Just google 'jugaad' and 'indian ingenuity' to follow the intellectual discourse on the subject

It is difficult to define since it encompasses the creation of alternatives, substitutes, improvisations and make-dos that is spurred by a native inventiveness which is characteristic of a culture steeped in scarcity and survival. It has inspired the creation of hybrid vehicles used as transport in Indian villages to the corner stores on the street making the pc / mobile technology more accessible to masses at a fraction of a cost to the local electrical making a contraption that functions as a home appliance and what have you!

Here is one more such jugaad solution that I encountered.

I had to get my Braun hand blender fixed. Turns out that Braun does not have an authorized serviced network in India. A local vendor promised to fix it for me and actually did, although getting spare parts for Braun products is not that simple.

The man imports a few pieces of Braun's original appliances. He then dismantles them completely. And sells it piece by piece. If I need a plastic joinery for my blender he would happily replace it with a new one and charge me a small premium for that part. Though I know I am being over-charged I pay it gladly. Why? I would have had to otherwise junk my machine entirely. He benefits since the sum of his parts make up more than the whole. Reverse synergy in action here :) It is a win-win situation for both of us.

I can bet my last buck that if i requested / expected such help from a branded service shop - it would be years before they would relent and offer anything close to this. Though I wonder why?

Do brands become less agile...less responsive as they grow?

As for the debate - yes the jugaad solution did prevent me from junking my old appliance and getting a new one. And an economist might argue that my truncated spending cycle does not do much good to the economic growth that gets spurred by consumer spending. Blah!


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