Jugaad #WILTW

This is the 135th #WILTW

Dependant on your source Jugaad is a colloquial Hindi word which implies a work-a-round solution to a problem. Its direct translation is ‘machinery’ but in management vocabulary it describes cheap resources which solve complicated issues. It was used in the context of ‘frugal innovation’ in a blog linked to by Roy Lilley this week. The Jugaad approach cited as a mechanism to help the NHS in this difficult period.

No immediate cash injection into the healthcare system looks likely at present. An even if it was suddenly to occur it wouldn’t solve those inefficiencies, bureaucracies and productivity challenges which are not directly amenable to financial resolution.

It is very easy to develop learnt helplessness during these challenging times:

There is nothing that can be done, or nothing I can do, so I will continue to do nothing.”

I think this phenomena plagues healthcare more than we care to admit. Having said we have strong notions of productivity and I think pride ourselves on attempting frugal innovation where possible.

There is a delicate balance here – the concept of Jugaad could easily become part of management ‘bingo’ and certainly won’t solve some of the more wicked problems we have in healthcare. Conversely falling into a cycle of despair helps no one.

I have tried where possible with #WILTW to reflect and learn with tangible solutions. I have no immediate answers this week however if there is one thing that may well keep the  balance, it is the healthcare staff themselves…. (click here if video below doesn’t play)

What have you learnt this week? #WILTW

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4 thoughts on “Jugaad #WILTW”

  1. Fascinating piece, as ever, Damian!

    I am troubled by the term ‘learned helplessness’ – and not only in this blog. It sounds judgemental, effectively ascribing a negative behaviour to the individual, and somehow implying weakness of character or poor morale.

    I see these same ‘learned helplessness’ behaviours as often being the sensible solution to a situation that would otherwise result in burn out – i.e. being required to do more than is realistically possible on a situation, especially if there are inadequate means. In other words, a survival mechanism: the ‘freeze’, if you like, from ‘flight, fight or freeze’. One logical alternative to Einstein’s ‘repeatedly doing the same thing, and expecting different results’. After all, behaviours like these have allowed (some) people, like Terry Waite, to survive incarceration in highly adverse physical and / or psychological circumstances, and arguably were the only option for many professionals – and indeed whole societies – in repressive, top down controlled societies, such as the pre-glaznost Stalinist Soviet Union or current North Korea.

    A possibly more accurate, and less negatively judgemental alternative terminology might be ‘initiative fatigue’? This implies (to me!) an external as well as an internal component, and doesn’t particularly imply a preponderance of either. A medical analogy might be the inappropriateness of using ‘cardiac insufficiency’ when the cause of the impaired ventricular function is ischaemia due to stenosed coronaries: at best it’s the arteries, not the myocytes, primarily at fault; at worst, it’s supply/demand mismatch.

    That said, I suspect different people might well set the threshold for learned helplessness (or initiative fatigue) at different places – and I suspect we would all tend to place it higher for others than we would for ourselves, after all, others have no idea just how demanding the pressures are in *my* life! There is room for some empathy and compassion here… 🙂

  2. As ever Kit – thank you for reflecting back my reflections. Your insights are always welcome.

    I take on board the point you make. I wonder if learned helplessness is a perhaps better description of groups or organisations. I understand the negative connotations but my lived experience is of something more than being stuck in a situation (often not of your own making) but a real belief there is nothing that can be done to make anything better.

    I love the term initiative fatigue, and have certainly experienced this myself!

    1. I like the notion of a difference between individuals and groups. That said, groups are made up of individuals. Usually, even if you or I are at a low initiative ebb, someone else in our system will inject enough energy (with a good idea, some support for an earlier idea, social/ emotional/ psychological support, etc) to get things bubbling again. This makes me consider the idea of corporate initiative fatigue, where no-one has the energy to come up with or help develop the next ‘good idea’!

      My lived experience in the NHS is that some very good ideas are either blocked directly, or accepted but shelved (same effect!) by management, usually for short term financial reasons. Eventually, everyone in the department (or organization) just gets fed up and goes into maintenance mode – just dealing with what’s in front them. I would accept this as ‘learned helplessness’. This could be characterized as not unreasonable learning from experience!

      1. Corporate initiative fatigue is common. It’s your latter point about this – the ability/will to ‘help’ others with initiatives – which I think is what often drives poor moral. Not everyone has to have good ideas but those percolating up do need help to come to the boil!

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