September 12


What you could learn from Frugal Innovation: How to do better with less by Navi Radjou & Jaideep Prabhu (2016, 220 pages)

Everyone wants to be seen as innovative.  Innovation has been one of the top business buzz words over the last few years.  Once the preserve of multination corporations and their huge Research & Development (R&D) Labs, innovation has been transformed by technology firms and startups who are able  to innovate faster, and with fewer resources.

In their book ‘Frugal Innovation’, Navi and Jaideep propose that companies can become frugal innovators by following six principles:

  1. Engage and iterate
  2. Flex your assets
  3. Create sustainable solutions
  4. Shape customer behaviour
  5. Co-create value with prosumers
  6. Make innovative friends

While the book covers each of these principles in more detail, the authors’ main argument is that these six principles help you focus on the customer’s perception of quality, affordability & sustainability. However, what do you do if you are not a tech company or a start-up, how can you adapt?

The authors argue that you should simplify your organisation structure, to make collaboration easier.  Collaboration should also be encouraged by making each of your executives responsible for a product, as well as their usual function or business unit. You should also make fewer, better, products which customers can customise themselves, rather than a huge variety of products, each with its small niche.  Three principles can help you transform your legacy firm’s  innovative potential:

  1. Engage customers throughout
  2. Adapt to unexpected changes
  3. Seek cheaper, good enough solutions


‘Frugal Innovation’ is a great introduction to an alternative way to view innovation.  While the book is heavily slanted towards sustainability, this book has lessons for every industry.  You should read this book if you want guidance on how to innovate more with less.