Schermata 2016-12-06 alle 23.12.05.pngBeing frugal has become a necessity. The status of our planet impels us to revise our habits, to keep others more in our mind, and our planet above all else. Being jugaad is no longer a quality of those who live in the far-flung areas of the world, far beyond the reach of most commodities.

Being jugaad has become a new mind-set (albeit not that new) that even the most developed economies need to adopt as soon as possible. This is the central topic of Frugal Innovation, released in its Italian edition a few days ago and published by Rubbettino Editore.

It deals with the evolution of jugaad, our rebranding of ancient and almost forsaken values. Being frugal is nothing new. This is precisely what our parents or grandparents always had to do to improve their living conditions in a context where scarcity was the norm. When broken things were fixed, not replaced.

This is the law of nature. In natural systems there is no waste, because everything that some systems do not need is reused by other systems. Thus, being frugal means being more similar to our true nature. 

A book then, Frugal Innovation, which stems from many corporate – not just company – case studies in the West to frame the six principles of innovation in a time of resource constraints, although accompanied by an increased request for value:

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

The sense of these six principles is to create not just a circular economy, but a spiral one, which is a shared economy with increasing added value. Speaking to customers, following them home (sometimes, literally) and pursuing sustainability are the objectives of the good entrepreneur of the 21st century.

The age of opulence is over, and frugality is ready to step in. The age of exclusive ownership of items is over, the age of systematic sharing starts. What do we need a drill for, if we use it for an average of 10 minutes of its whole lifecycle, and can borrow one whenever we need it? Or a car, if we can have one right now, thanks to car-sharing?

For a long time we confused frugality with lower quality, or with cheap products we considered to be low-end. The aforementioned cases, together with many others told in the book actually celebrate frugality, and propel it as the key for the future.

Frugal Innovation has been awarded the title Best management book for 2016. It is a profound and fluent read, both dense and cheerful. It is a new lifestyle, different from the one we are accustomed to, but the only one capable of guaranteeing a better and more sustainable future for our children. Who are, by the way, decidedly more frugal than we might think.

Happy reading.