Navi Radjou

Innovation and Leadership Expert, Thinkers50 Award Winner
Navi Radjou
  • Served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation
  • Featured on NPR, BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Financial Times
  • Winner of the prestigious Thinkers50 Innovation Award
  • Advises companies on frugal innovation to solve our toughest social, environmental, and public policy challenges

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Navi Radjou is an innovation and leadership thinker based in Silicon Valley. Drawing on his Indian upbringing, he was the first (with his co-authors) to capture the phenomenon of jugaad—a Hindi word for improvised solutions born out of ingenuity in resource constrained settings. His first book, a global best-seller of the same name, Jugaad Innovation, shows how companies and entrepreneurs can unleash and harness the grassroots ingenuity of employees, customers, and partners to co-create simple but effective solutions that deliver greater value at a lower cost.

Throughout the two decades of his career—spanning the public sector to market research and then as an academic and author—Navi’s ideas have been shaped by his eclectic cultural background including his Indian roots, his French education, and his current Silicon Valley milieu.

Navi’s most recent book, published by The Economist in 2015, is named, Frugal Innovation: How To Do More With Less (with a foreword by Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever), shows how companies can innovate faster, better, and more sustainably in today’s customer-driven economy shaped by climate change. It won the CMI Management Book of the Year 2016 Award. Navi is also co-author of the book, From Smart To Wise, a book on next generation leadership that CEO coach Marshall Goldsmith calls “fascinating” and PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi views as “a practical guide for accelerating your own wise leadership development.”

More recently, Navi has been expanding on the concept and practice of frugal innovation well beyond the economic realm to solve our toughest social, environmental, and public policy challenges. His latest book, The Rise of the Frugal Society: Reinventing How We Create, Consume, and Live, was published in September 2016 on this topic. 

Navi has received the prestigious Thinkers50 Innovation Award—given to a management thinker who is reshaping the way we think about and practice innovation, and is ranked as one of the 50 most influential persons shaping innovation in France. His TED talk on frugal innovation has garnered over 1 million video views.

Navi is curator of WAVE: How Collective Ingenuity Is Changing The World—a major exhibition on grassroots innovation and entrepreneurship produced by BNP Paribas that has traveled to major cities around the world—including Paris, San Francisco, Istanbul, and Mumbai—since 2014.

Until 2011, he served as Executive Director of the Centre for India & Global Business at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, where he is currently a fellow. Previously, he was a longtime VP/analyst at Forrester Research in Boston and San Francisco and advised senior executives worldwide on breakthrough growth strategies. Navi has consulted with leading international organizations—including E&Y, GM, Fujitsu, IBM, Microsoft, P&G, SAP, and TCS. 

He has served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Design Innovation. His work has been featured on NPR, BBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Financial Times. He regularly writes in Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review and strategy+business. Navi has addressed audiences across the world in venues like the World Economic Forum, Council on Foreign Relations, Harvard, and MIT.

Born and raised in India, Navi holds dual French-American citizenship. He studied at Ecole Centrale Paris and the Yale School of Management. He lives in Palo Alto, California.

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Creative Problem-Solving in the Face of Extreme Limits

Manuevering Change for Your Company's Benefit

Beyond Inclusion: ‘Integralizing’ Differences to Thrive in the Complex World. In the new complex and fast-paced world, organizations need to be adaptable, resilient, and creative to sense and respond to unexpected threats and opportunities.

To boost their agility and innovation capacity, businesses must learn to leverage the growing diversity in their workforce and in their larger ecosystem.

Rather than try to ‘integrate’ differences in their organization – by uniting everyone based on the ‘lowest common denominator’ – Radjou will explain how businesses can learn to ‘integralize’ diversity – by unleashing each individual’s fullest potential and uplifting everyone toward a ‘highest shared aspirational purpose’.

Using inspiring real-life examples of pioneering organizations and leaders (whom he calls the ‘integralizers’) and drawing on his own multicultural (Indian, French, American) background and 25 years of global work experience, Radjou will show how you – as business leaders – can go beyond inclusion and fully leverage diversity to build and sustain an agile and innovative organization.

How to Thrive in a Frugal Economy. In this new and complex world, all nations and industries are contending with a triple-challenge: rebooting the economy, reducing social inequality, and preserving and regenerating the environment. The 200-year-old capitalistic economic paradigm based on profit maximization and “more with more” (using more resources to create more products) is coming to an end. Instead, digital technologies, new regulations, anti-globalization movements, and millions of value—and values—conscious Gen Y and Z consumers and employees are giving rise to the frugal economy.

A frugal economy generates greater value for all stakeholders in a highly efficient, socially inclusive, and eco-sustainable manner—using fewer resources and without polluting. This new multi-trillion-dollar economy is fueled by 3 mega-trends—circular and regenerative business principles, distributed manufacturing and hyper-local value chains, B2C and B2B sharing—and digital technologies such as blockchain, AI, 3D printing, IoT and digital twins.

Award-winning innovation expert and TED Speaker Navi Radjou will show how to proactively reinvent your organization—and your entire ecosystem—to thrive in the frugal economy. Specifically, he would give you the new perspectives, principles, and techniques you need to adopt frugal innovation, the art of “doing more—and better—with less”—so you become more agile and can profit from doing business in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Learn from Navi how to “future-proof” your business in the modern world.

Frugal Innovation: The Art Of Doing More With Less. In today’s resource-constrained environment, companies are challenged to deliver more value to cost-conscious and eco-minded customers using fewer resources. Drawing on extensive academic research and consulting experience, Navi Radjou will show you how leading companies are pioneering frugal innovation—a cutting-edge management paradigm that will enable you to create high-quality products faster and better with limited resources. You will learn the core principles of frugal innovation that can drastically reduce your costs in R&D, operations, and marketing, boost your productivity and agility, and help attract and retain more customers. 

How Large Organizations Can Accelerate Growth Through Innovation: The pressure to innovate is greater than ever before. Yet large organizations struggle to innovate at rapid pace due to their traditional structure, strategies, culture, and leadership style. Renowned innovation expert Navi Radjou will reveal effective ways to breed entrepreneurial attitudes within large firms. Using many real-life case studies Navi will demonstrate how your organization can innovate faster and better—by balancing scale and agility, encouraging productive risk-taking, leveraging the creativity of all your employees, and fostering wise leadership.

Jugaad: A Frugal and Flexible Way To Drive Breakthrough Growth. During the 20th century, the Western model of innovation was like an orchestra: Top-down, rigid, and run by upper-level executives. But to succeed in the complex, volatile, resource-scarce business environment of the 21st century, Western firms need an alternative approach, one that is like a jazz band: bottom-up, improvisational, and collaborative. Navi Radjou, winner of Thinkers50 Innovation Award, will show how leading companies are using jugaad—a Hindi word for frugal and flexible innovation—to sense and respond swiftly to big market opportunities and outsmart competition. You will learn how to apply the proven business principles of jugaad to unleash and harness the grassroots ingenuity of your employees and partners and innovate faster, better, and cheaper.

Innovation In Emerging Markets—The New Networked Model For Global Success. To capitalize on the rapid rise of emerging markets like China, Africa, and India global corporations must abandon their insular and monolithic innovation model—that concentrated R&D resources in the West. Instead, they must embrace a "networked" innovation model in which R&D capabilities are distributed globally to swiftly seize regional opportunities—and yet are integrated in a loosely-coupled global innovation network to drive creative synergies on an international scale. Drawing on his twenty years of consulting experience in the US, Europe, and Asia, innovation expert Navi Radjou will show the business benefits of networked innovation and offer a practical roadmap for traditional companies to embrace this new innovation model fit for success in the global knowledge economy of the 21st century.

From Smart To Wise: The New 21st Century Leadership Model. Smart people impress us with their intellectual power and uncanny ability to achieve their goals. But smartness alone is not always sufficient to keep leaders out of trouble and sustain their success over time. Navi Radjou, coauthor of From Smart To Wise, proposes a different and counterintuitive approach to leadership that goes beyond optimizing “smartness.” Wise leadership, he argues, means connecting to a higher purpose, cultivating a broader perspective, and responding to external events with discernment, flexibility, and authenticity. Drawing on inspiring real-life stories of wise leaders Navi will identify six capabilities of wise leadership and provide you a practical framework to develop a resilient and balanced leadership style that is key to success in our complex world.

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