Last year we published a pamphlet called How to be Ingenious, which explored the effect of very resource-constrained environments on innovation - how such situations can sometimes cause innovation to thrive but at other times throttle it. We drew on examples of bricolage, technology races between countries, the Indian concept of jugaad, and interviews with people we thought exemplified the ability to devise ingenious solutions in different domains: an expert in theatrical improvisation, a software engineer and a survival instructor.
Given the state of our global economy (and ecology), the topic of resource-constrained - or 'frugal' innovation - is enjoying focus in public and private sector. The Innovation Unit's blog pointed me to David Cameron's tribute to the 'Delhi drive' to succeed: "When you step off the plane in Delhi or Shanghai or Lagos, you can feel the energy, the hunger, the drive to succeed. We need that here". The Economist proclaim that frugal innovation will 'change the world'. The subject has attracted recent business books (Jugaad Innovation) and one fascinating magazine (Makeshift).
Examples of ingenuity in the public sector exist, but how could they be better supported? Matthew recently blogged about the importance of clusters and networks to innovation, which are arguably even more critical to successful innovation in resource-constrained environments. Chatting with a colleague about the shift from top-down 'best practice' to more devolved practice and more 'micro-innovation' to solve problems, we wondered whether an online platform could collect and showcase examples of ingenious or frugal solutions to common problems: perhaps a kind of Instructables for the public sector?