Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Resourcefulness and Indian business

It was one of those days while I was studying. The exams were drawing close and I needed to photocopy some notes. I landed up at our friendly neighbourhood "xerox" center. It was during this visit that I observed the ingenious process of warming up his old machine. (Excerpt from previous post) The panel on the side facing the operator is removed ( it usually doesnt exist) and a lighted match is used to heat a coil on the side. Voila! the machine is warmed up before you can say photocopier. The trick they use to lower the cost of the copy is to dilute the toner (with kerosene presumably).

Also, if someone photocopies a book for the first time, he asks what the book is about and he creates a couple of copies for himself. So the next time someone comes up with a request of the same book, all he has to do is hand over a copy, bound and ready to use.

Resourcefulness is an integral character of the Indian business as much as it is a character of the Indian businessman. Of course, there is a local word for it too, jugaad.

The examples of washing machines used for creating lassi is a very famous one. Windshield wiper fluid? Use Tobacco water or use regular shampoo - the drivers will tell you. There are numerous such examples. One firm I know employed an architect to supervise the building activities of its vendor - the said architect was the employee of the firm. Needless he was able to achieve a very good cost reduction since he really knew where the wasteful expenditure could be cut.

Which is why Indian IT (or any industry including automobiles, post Nano) has to be in the Indian market. Indians are very good at cost cutting, adjusting and making do with less than ideal conditions. When Indian frugality and resourcefulness meets American perfection, there is a great opportunity. Add Japanese processes and you know why Maruti Suzuki is a winner all the way. Being in the Indian market is an education unto itself. Are you here yet?

7 comments:

Kavi said...

Thats pretty much of a vivid picture of jugaad.

It rules our lives. How we make Castrol tins our toilet buckets. The trains of mumbai, the narrow roads and massive traffic and flow !!!

All jugaad of the highest order !

niti bhan said...

Far more interesting, based on these thoughts of yours, is the fact that there's immense opportunity for Indian firms in Africa. Just back from three weeks of field observations in South Africa - ah, a lesson in itself for an Indian - and these basic qualities are missing there some how. But if an enterprising company were to come in adn apply indian style experiences, I think they could be extremely successful.

life said...

Actually believe it or not, this is the most encouraging and optimistic word my Project Manager in India use to say...Funny!!!

Venks said...

another rocking post..feels like Deja Vu though
...ya africa is going to be a great opportunity without doubt....r we good enuf to exploit it ?

niti bhan said...

good enough is the question that shows the ultimate failing no?

Tata very successful already as is Mahindra. Also saw "Maggi Atta Noodles" in the supermarket

Swapna said...

Nice post! :-)

Gave me a feeling of nostalgia - especially with xerox machines. I remember going to the xerox shops a couple of weeks before the final exams and he would have copies of the most popular notes all ready to go. :-)

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