Navi Radjou is a French-American scholar, an innovation and leadership advisor, and a bestselling author based in New York. Navi’s most recent book, Frugal Innovation: How To Do More With Less (with a foreword by Paul Polman, ex-CEO, Unilever), published by The Economist in 2015, shows how companies can innovate faster, better, and sustainably in today’s customer-driven, resource-constrained tech-driven global economy shaped by climate change. Navi has also coauthored the global bestseller Jugaad Innovation (over 250,000 copies sold worldwide) and From Smart To Wise. His TED talk on frugal innovation has garnered nearly 2 million video views. And, he has received the prestigious Thinkers50 Innovation Award, given to a management thinker reshaping how we think about and practice innovation.
Navi Radjou offers a truly unique and valuable perspective which powerfully fuses together Europe, Silicon Valley and India.
— Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50 Founders
His next book, The Conscious Society: Reinventing How We Consume, Work, Relate, and Live, shows how we can expand our awareness and tap into our abundant inner resources — love, ingenuity, wisdom — to consciously direct human evolution towards a healthier and sustainable future, will be published in 2021.
He is a Fellow at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and serves on the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Until 2011, he served as Executive Director of the Centre for India & Global Business at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. Prior to that, as Vice President at Forrester Research in Boston and San Francisco, he advised senior leaders worldwide on breakthrough growth strategies. He is on the advisory boards of NEHI’s Global Lab for Health and Africa4Tech.
Navi’s ideas have been shaped by his eclectic cultural background including his Indian roots, his French education, and his 20 years of work experience in the US. He studied at Ecole Centrale Paris and the Yale School of Management. His writing appears in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review and strategy+business, MIT Sloan Management Review, among other publications. He is a lifelong student of Yoga, Ayurveda, and Buddhist (Vipassana) meditation.
A Word from Navi
I grew up in Pondicherry, a former French colony in Southern India made famous by the book and movie Life of Pi. My tiny house was located next to an urban slum. Early on, I developed a keen sensitivity of scarce resources. Due to very dry climate, water was rationed so we would take a shower with one bucket of water. Several of my childhood friends lived in abject poverty and yet were highly creative: like a MacGyver, they were able to improvise makeshift solutions to everyday problems with very limited means. They did more — and better — with less. This resilient ingenuity and resourceful frugality form a philosophy that I have lived by since childhood and now strive to impart through my writing, speeches, and consulting work.
“We are entering what I call the Age of Convergence, in which first-world and third- world issues…are converging to create problems without borders”
Steve Jobs famously said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” When I turned 45, I reflected on my life and saw a pattern. Until then, I had treated the various aspects of my background — my Indian roots, French education, and my professional life in the US — as distinct. I realized that the time has come for me to “integrate” these unconnected dots of my background into something more holistic. I also see this reflected in our times. We are entering what I call the Age of Convergence, in which first-world and third-world issues like climate change, escalating pollution, social inequality, chronic illnesses, are converging to create “problems without borders” that affect every person on Earth irrespective of gender, skin color, or income level. The human race needs to transcend its superficial differences and converge toward unity so that all men and women can join forces to co-create “solutions without borders” that overcome the wicked problems afflicting entire mankind.
I see this convergence and unity happening within my own being as I integrate the rich aspects of my multicultural background — the millennia-old Indian spiritual wisdom, the French tradition of rational thinking and scientific analysis, and the entrepreneurial spirit of Silicon Valley — to gradually become a “whole” person. I intend to infuse this holistic and integrative perspective into my work so I can inspire people worldwide to co-create a better future for humanity. I consider this to be my life’s purpose.
“If we stop copying and pasting innovations without adapting them to local contexts, we will be able to do great things. Each region of the world will develop according to its constraints and resources.”