Go Lean! Try Jugaad Innovation

 19th June 2018 by gihan

Facebook has recently been reminding me that, five years ago, I went on a holiday to Sri Lanka with my parents and my sister.

Among the many enjoyable moments was spending time with two of my aunts, who I hadn’t seen for more than 30 years. Not only did we get to enjoy a very tasty Sri Lankan meal, I also had the unexpected opportunity to become an amateur “electrician”.

Their electric fan wasn’t working, because the plug didn’t fit snugly into the adapter plug, which was plugged into the power board, which in turn was plugged into the wall socket. With a bit of experimentation (and enough care and luck not to electrocute myself), I discovered I could make it work by wedging a small piece of cardboard in there, and that tilted the plug just enough for contact!

Of course, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing such a thing back home in Australia! We have Woolies, electricians, and other – more sophisticated – options to fix this kind of problem. But those options weren’t available at the time, and a piece of cardboard was the perfect solution.

This is an example of Jugaad innovation.

“Jugaad” is a Hindi word that (roughly) means solving a problem in an ingenious way when you have limited resources. I’m sure you have seen plenty of photographs of this from around the world – such as this ute constructed from random spare parts:

Many people – especially in developed nations – used to laugh or look down on this kind of problem solving. But there’s a growing trend of applying the concepts of Jugaad innovation in well-resourced, established organisations. Authors Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, and Simone Ahuja talk about this in depth in their 2012 book, “Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth”.

The big idea is that you can trigger better ideas when you have fewer – not more – resources.

In fact, this is exactly how smart start-up companies disrupt the big, well-established incumbents. The start-ups don’t have huge cash reserves, a large staff, and many other assets that sometimes reduce the need for innovation. They have to be lean, so they are forced to be more creative in solving problems big and small.

If you want to be more innovative, try removing some resources!

If you want more innovation in your organisation, the obvious option is to throw more resources – time, money, people, etc. – at it. But that might not necessarily be the best option. What if you removed some of those resources instead?

What if you had to create a working prototype for under $100?
What if you set aside just one hour each week to fix 10 small problems?
What if your team had to solve a problem but without using any in-house resources?

Of course, you need to strike the right balance.

Removing too many resources can also stifle innovation. But don’t automatically assume that fewer resources means less innovation.

It’s like runners in a race. If they are fat, they carry too much body weight; and if they are skinny, they don’t have enough energy. The best runners are lean, not skinny or fat!

So, if you want to spark innovation in your team, try removing some of their resources!

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 13th June 2018 by gihan

When people are uncertain about the future and can’t rely on what has worked for them in the past, decision-making suffers and productivity declines. Instead of making progress, people just try to protect their turf, pass the buck, and resist change. If that’s happening to you and your team (or you want to make sure it doesn’t happen!), learn the skills of better decision-making in an uncertain future.

You can watch the recording here:

After the webinar, I asked participants “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Here are some of their answers:

“How to structure options to think about the future.”

“Way of categorising future threats”

“Your best asset can be a liability too”

“Dont discount the value of Analytics and Big Data – even if I dont think it will apply to my organisation”

“The 9 technology trends of immediate impact and how to relate these to my business assets”

“Majority of competition is likely to come from outside usual competitors and need to think about business opportunities from their perspective. “

The Future Proof Webinar Series

The Future Proof webinar series will keep you in touch with our future – what’s ahead, what it means for us, and how to stay ahead of the game.

In each webinar, I’ll cover an important topic about the future – for example, the shift of power to Asia, the changing workplace, healthcare technology, the shift to customer-centric business, big data, and more. This is not just theory; I’ll also give you practical examples and ideas for you to future-proof your organisation, teams, and career.

Register here

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Think Ahead by Connecting Outside Technology

 7th June 2018 by gihan

The biggest changes to your job and business will come from outside your industry. In their Accenture Technology Vision 2016 report, Accenture says almost half of Australian executives expect the greatest risk of disruption from this kind of competition.

It’s all well and good to compare yourself with yourself, so you can keep improving. And it’s sometimes even worth looking around at the competition, so you can strive to be (or continue to be) the market leader. But that won’t protect you from people outside your industry stealing a march on you and the rest of your industry.

You can’t always predict this, of course. But you can be more aware of it by training yourself to consider the impact of new technology and trends.

For example, self-driving cars will affect a lot of industries:

  • Obviously, car manufacturing and car sales will change, because many people won’t have to buy their own cars.
  • We won’t need car insurance, because we won’t be responsible for car accidents.
  • The multi-billion-dollar parking industry will be affected, because cars won’t be sitting in garages and parking spaces all day.
  • Accommodation, travel and hospitality will be affected, because people can drive to destinations overnight (sleeping in their car) rather than taking flights and staying in hotels.
  • Cemeteries, morgues, and funeral directors will be affected, because there will be fewer deaths from car accidents.
  • Education will be affected, because cars might become mobile classrooms rather than just transport vehicles.

Notice that some of these connections (such as car sales, insurance and parking) are more obvious than others, because they are directly related to cars. But some of the others are not so obvious, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important! If you’re in one of those less-obvious industries, you’ll have an advantage by thinking ahead and assessing the impact of this technology.

Exercise: Be a Connector

Every time you hear about some new technology or trend, rather than just dismissing it because It’s not directly related to your industry, ask:

“How could this affect me?”
“How could this affect my business?”
“How could this affect my industry?”

Consider both the positives and negatives – that is, the opportunities and the threats.

Do this regularly and proactively, and you will spot new opportunities and keep finding ways to add value to yourself and your business.

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Think Like a Futurist

 5th June 2018 by gihan


Futurists aren’t fortune-tellers! They simply look broader, deeper, and further than most people, and help you find new opportunities to apply what they find. As writer William Gibson said, the future is already here – it just isn’t evenly distributed. In this podcast episode, I’ll teach you nine practical skills you can use yourself to think like a futurist, so you can make better decisions – and faster.

Listen To the Episode

More Resources

The Fit for the Future Podcast brings you regular ideas, interviews and insights about how you, your teams and your organisation can become fit for the future.

More ways to engage with me:

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The Future of Conferences: Ten Things Great Conference Organisers Do Differently

 31st May 2018 by gihan

Videoconferencing, online meetings, telepresence and other collaboration technology are gaining traction. That doesn’t mean the in-person conference is obsolete – but its role has changed. Some of the benefits of coming together for a conference can be achieved just as effectively in other ways.

As a conference keynote speaker (and somebody who has been in the industry for over 20 years), I have seen major changes in the way conferences and events work. Especially in the last few years, because of technology, changing demographics, and global connectivity.

If you’re in the MICE industry – as a speaker, conference organiser, speaking bureau, association, event sponsor, or anybody else who’s involved in events – download my new special report “The Future of Conferences”.

In this special report, I look at ten trends affecting professional conferences and events, and how conference organisers take advantage of them. Good conference organisers adapt to these changes. Great conference organisers embrace them to create transformational experiences.

I wrote the first edition of this report in 2015, and I’ve now rewritten it completely to bring it up to date for 2018. This is not just a minor revision – I’ve completely rewritten it!

The first edition is only three years old, but that’s an eternity now in this fast-paced world.

In that time, we have seen rapid growth in technology such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, online collaboration tools, personalisation and customisation, social media, and much, much more. It goes without saying that much of this technology affects the Meetings Incentives Conventions & Exhibitions (MICE) industry, but not always in the most obvious ways, and not always to the same extent. This revised edition reports on the latest trends and their impact, especially in the Australian market.

As with the first edition, I wanted to make this more than just a “white paper”, but also a source of practical ideas for great conference organisers. So, as before, I have included practical ideas for you to created more compelling event experiences. In fact, I have gone much further than the previous edition, including more in-depth ideas and more references to external sources.

For example …

We look at the three different types of people in your audience – based on their age and demographic profile:

Not surprisingly, each group wants different things, and there are so many ways now to deliver. For example, we look at audience interaction tools like a live word cloud:

Or what about an online bulletin board for audience members to share their biggest takeaways from a panel discussion?

Yep, there’s a lot of tech – but it’s not all equally useful!

Meetings industry peeps in Australia were asked which technology would be important in future conferences and events, and their answers might surprise you. These were their top five:

Some others that have gained a lot of media hype didn’t make the cut, including holograms, heat maps of foot traffic, artificial intelligence and robotics, and facial recognition software.

But it’s not just about technology.

It’s easy to focus on technology alone because there’s always a new Bright Shiny Object to capture our attention! But events are changing in other ways as well – as meeting professionals predict about the nature of sessions:

That’s just a small sample.

Anyway, that’s just a small sample of the research and resources you’ll find in the 2018 edition of “The Future of Conferences”.

So go ahead – please download it!

Download Now

And, of course, you have my permission to share it far and wide with colleagues and friends in the MICE industry. The more we all learn about how to be fit for the future, the more useful and compelling we can make our events.

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Artificial Intelligence Works Best When Combined With Our Own

 29th May 2018 by gihan

There is a lot of discussion about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in our future. But it’s still early days for AI, and the best uses of AI happen when we combine it with our own human genius. We need strong leaders who push for change and strong work cultures that embrace it.

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Engage in Lifelong Learning with Online Courses

 24th May 2018 by gihan

In our fast-changing world, you can’t afford to stop learning when you finish formal education. If you truly want to be fit for the future, making lifelong learning a habit – and tap into the awesome power of online courses to keep feeding that habit.

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Think Deeper About How to Leverage New Technology

 17th May 2018 by gihan

Did you see Google’s recent demo of its AI software, Google Duplex? It’s been doing the rounds on the Internet in the last week, as people marvel, critique and parody it.

In case you haven’t seen it, it’s a demonstration of the Google Assistant software making a phone call to book an appointment at a hairdressing salon. The software actually makes the phone call, understands the person on the other end, and responds appropriately to her responses and questions.

Watch the video here:

Impressive, huh?

I’m always wary of product demos, because they don’t always reflect the full capability of a product. And Google especially is well-known for showing – and even releasing – incomplete products (Gmail was in beta release for five years!).

But, leaving that aside, this is impressive!

There’s a lot of talk in the media and society about how AI (artificial intelligence) like this and robots will replace humans. And you can easily see how this could replace a human personal assistant’s role in many ways.

But don’t limit your thinking!

The most extreme – and most limited – mindset is to see this completely replacing a human’s role. But that’s not the only way to think.

Broadly, you can think of any new technology at four levels:


The new technology replaces the need for a human to do that task. The human simply disappears from the equation, and goes the way of the lift operator, typist, telephone operator, and other roles that have been replaced by technology.

Thinking this way isn’t necessarily negative. It might be negative for the person whose role is replaced, but it could be very positive for their employer – who can do more, faster, and for less money.

Of course, there are important ethical and societal issues here, but that’s a completely different topic. I just want to point out that the “replace” mindset is not inherently “good” or “bad” – it’s just limited.


The next level is where the new technology helps a person do the task better – more effectively, more efficiently, with fewer errors, or in some other useful way. It helps them leverage their time and brainpower by automating whatever it can.

Of course, we see this in hundreds of small ways now – such as a spell checker helping a writer, cruise control helping a driver, even a remote control helping a couch potato!

If a smart personal assistant saw Google’s demo, instead of saying, “Oh, no – I’ll be out of a job!”, she would say, “Oh, great! How can this help me do that task better?”


The next level is where the technology elevates the human to do higher-level tasks. So, in this scenario, the technology might replace the human in that task, but frees her up to do something more important.

For example, in education, enlightened teachers and schools adopt the “Flip the Classroom” model, where teachers delegate the routine task of presenting content to technology – in the form of things like online courses, videos, and (now) virtual reality experiences. When the students are in the classroom, the teacher helps them with problem solving, collaboration, ideas generation, and all the other things that technology just can’t do yet.


Finally, the highest level is to leverage the technology to do something completely different. Instead of asking only how this technology will affect a specific role, we ask “How else could we use this?”

In fact, if you watched the Google demo video to the very end, you would have heard the presenter talk about one such scenario: determining the opening hours of a shop on a public holiday. Instead of dozens of people calling the shop, the Google Assistant could make just one call, understand the response, and record the information, so that everybody who searches Google finds that information directly.

I bet you that wasn’t the first idea you had when you saw the demo, right? But it’s an excellent exmple of leveraging an innovation to solve a different problem.

What’s YOUR mindset when you see new technology?

Do you automatically go to the most limited scenario – where the technology will just replaces a human?

Or could you be a bit more open-minded, and see how it could assist or elevate them?

And what about being a real possibility thinker, and imagine how you could leverage it into something completely different?

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