Jugaad and Project Management



By Raju Rao

Chennai, India




“Jugaad”, an Indian word signifying improvisation, has become a buzzword in management circles. Originally used by native users to solve their myriad problems in getting things done in day-to-day operations, it is now being adapted more systematically and formally as a method to improve and innovate. How does the concept and practice of “Jugaad” relate to formal project management principles and knowledge?

Traditional project management through its bodies of knowledge has espoused a structured methodology. One of the main criticisms on the emphasis of detailed planning has been its unsuitability to situations and projects which are uncertain or developmental in nature. This has given rise to methodologies like Agile and similar frameworks which indeed have become very popular in application and practice.

‘Jugaad’ principles and its practice can be viewed in multiple ways in relation to projects. As a method similar to Agile, or as a method in crisis management and more importantly as a way of frugal innovation. In the current business scenario of a VUCA environment this has significance and it is worthwhile to investigate the pros and cons of using the ‘Jugaad’ way in implementing projects.

This paper will explain the practice of “Jugaad” by tracing its origin and discuss the current effort to use it as a formal management practice. It will also provide examples and applications where it can be gainfully used for managing projects.

What is Jugaad ???

The word Jugaad is a Hindi word used originally signifying adaptation of a vehicle used for transportation. Usually this would mean adapting or converting a motorcycle, tractor or cycle to transport more than the designated number of people.(Exhibit 1)

The word ‘Jugaad ’has been recently added to the Oxford Dictionary which states the meaning as “A flexible approach to problem solving that uses limited resources in an innovative way”. Other dictionary meanings include “the use of skill and imagination to find an easy solution to a problem or to fix or make something using cheap, basic items” and “a vehicle made from different parts of other vehicles and used for carrying people, goods, etc., that is usually open at the front and the back and often not very safe to drive”.

Each of the above meanings gives credence to the way the word is used and the way it is understood in day-to-day to life, more so in modern management practice where it is being used to signify a quick or innovative way to solve unanticipated problems.

Exhibit 1 – It all started with Transportation!

Examples & Applications

In course of time, the practice of ‘Jugaad’ was deployed as a modification, adaptation or quick fix for transportation as can be seen from some examples in Exhibit 2.Later on, it became a method to find low cost solutions to many problems often with the help of appropriate technology. Because of this it naturally found favour in the developing countries which are usually hard pressed for resources.


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How to cite this paper: Rao, R.N. (2020). Jugaad and Project Management; PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue VIII, August.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/pmwj96-Aug2020-Rao-Jugaad-and-project-management.pdf



About the Author

Raju N Rao

Chennai, India


 Raju N Rao, PMP is Founder of Xtraplus Solutions which is involved in consulting and training in Project Management. Raju has presented papers at Global Congresses and has been involved in the development of many standards of PMI particularly OPM3. He often writes for project management journals and is co-author of two books – Project Management Circa 2025 and Organizational Project Management. He is a PMP, SCPM and a PMI certified OPM3 Professional. He was a Founder Board member of PMI Chennai Chapter, has been on the Leadership Team for Awards for PMI India and Global Advisory Board for OPM3 Professionals. Raju can be reached at rao.raju@gmail.com