A compelling insight is the cornerstone of a transformative solution. At Wolfzhowl we don’t limit our minds to our client work. We take our everyday observation of brands, people and life and turn them into actionable insights, better called #wolfSIGHTS

by Shweta Sinha Shweta Sinha No Comments

Why Design Thinking Fails?

Design Thinking | Wolfzhowl

Why design thinking fails

Design thinking has often been touted as the silver bullet for every kind of business problem. And therein lies the fallacy. In order to understand why it hasn’t worked for some of us, we need to examine some of the misleading claims about its application and methodology.

But first, let us look at some of the aspects that are common to all design thinking models out there (including the famous IDEO definition by Tim Brown):

  1. All models require sequential divergence and convergence of thought and ideas in order to identify problem and solution spaces
  2. It is an iterative process that helps you reframe the problem and iteratively arrive at a solution
  3. It requires both left and right brained approach, as creative thinking is an integral part of a design solution
  4. It is human-centric, in which it places the human at the heart of the approach and solution

Design Thinking | Wolfzhowl


While a lot of marketing heads do take the above four into account when planning their design-thinking approach, what they fail to include are some crucial aspects at the stage of deployment that make all the difference between the success and failure of the attempt. Given below are some of the most common reasons why design thinking approach fails:

  1. It requires an excellent facilitator who can effectively moderate the brainstorming process of divergence and convergence. The moderator needn’t necessarily be the marketing head. But it has to be someone who is adept at ensuring that the discussions remain on track with the objective without being limiting in any way. Without this keen and able facilitator, you just end up with a chart full of colourful post-it notes and nothing more.
  2. Like a lifestyle, design thinking needs to be practiced and implemented repeatedly, before it becomes intuitive. Just doing a course or reading a book on doesn’t cut it. You need to learn to fail fast and reiterate till you get it right. And do this several times over, before you master the approach. Companies that do not account for this learning curve – both in terms of time as well as sunk cost, will inevitable have to give up too soon.
  3. Throwing the baby with the bath water is another classic mistake. Regular, every day operational practices do not require design thinking approach. They require tried and tested solutions so that the ongoing machinery does not get disrupted. It is in fact counter intuitive to constantly change day-to-day operations and innovate in areas that require steadiness.
  4. Innovating for the sake of innovating as a PR activity or rejuvenation from old ways is another common practice that results in failure of design thinking approach. In order for design thinking to yield results, one must first clearly identify what is the exact objective that one is hoping to address and if it is in line with the direction that the company wants to take. Otherwise, it’s just money spent to generate good press, but results in no tangible outcome.
  5. Since co-creation is at the core of design thinking process, sometimes it becomes an impediment to innovation due to group-think. It takes time to arrive at a common idea in a group. And once that happens, the group is too quick to deep-dive and pursue that idea, instead of critically assessing it further. The loss of time in the ideation phase can result in people rushing to create mediocre solutions.

In essence, what one needs to keep in mind is the fact that great design solutions take time, depth, iteration, maturation and a dedicated cross-functional team that constantly pushes each other to explore and test ideas that each one individually would’ve been incapable of.

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Memes – Would they affect the outcome of the upcoming elections?


Meme. A phenomenon that is extremely common today.

In 1976, biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ in his book ‘The Selfish Gene’. He used the word to describe small units of culture that spread from person to person by copying or imitation. While the word has slightly changed in its meaning today, memes do reflect the culture and society. In fact, they are an apt commentary on society today. What’s even more interesting is that this commentary is not provided by a scholar decoding culture and society, but by the everyday common man.

So, what makes memes so interesting and so popular? Well, for one, they get to the point directly. What needed context and emotional buildup to explain and hit home, now only needs the right format. Our brain fills in the emotional blanks and gets the job done, faster. The need for “shared experiences” is immediately fulfilled with the help of a meme.

With internet reaching the remotest of villages in India today and smartphones and data plans becoming cheaper than ever before, everyone is hooked on Facebook and WhatsApp. Armed with these political parties and their loyal supporters are using this asset really well.

With low literacy rates in India, visuals play an important role in the dissemination of information. Add to this the fact that most millennials today visit Facebook to get their daily dose of news (source). It is not a wonder, then, that memes, meant to invoke humour, become sources of information. Whether it is the opposition’s commentary on the policies laid down by the current government or whether it is the ruling party’s jab on the opposition’s manifesto statement, memes are now being looked at black & white documentation of proof.

The need for belonging has people reaching for the share button far more easily on memes than on the written content, which could give a more balanced view for every policy and incident that happens. What makes this content more sharable is the fact that it looks “user-generated” and more authentic. The unpolished format of the medium makes the content looks more believable and political parties have realized this. This is why you see most of these memes being generated from the IT cells of all parties rather than their own social media accounts.


Memes have a way of positioning or re-positioning a candidate, memes have the power to build-up an issue or build-down and make light of an issue and hence embed itself into the memory structures of people/voters easier and create a larger impact. There is nothing comical about the impact of a meme. 

While in the current political scenario memes are crafted with intentions of manipulating opinion, post this scenario consumer generated memes, shared memes are actually more than just ways of engaging consumers – they when audited right can lead to mining of great insights.

 Meme-Marketing yes, but Meme-Sights (Insights) even more of a yeah especially if they are consumer generated and shared!

Would memes impact the outcome of the elections? One may not know for sure. But what’s clear is that memes have the ability to distract people from the main issues and take the narrative to feelings instead of facts.

 We’ll need to wait for the outcome of the elections to see the impact of the memes.

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Digital brings back the dead wise ways #wolfSIGHTS

A morbid title, but i promise u happy instigative musings. Am not a subject matter expert, hence write this with well intentioned naivety that hopefully shall instigate a few rich thoughts and conversations.

The rise of digital media is bringing back a few old wise-ways back from the dead…especially with respect to ways of ancient India.

My musings about a few of these:

(1) vaadam x prativaadam = taatparyam. Argument x counter-argument = residual truth/understanding/refined knowledge = wisdom. Old gurukul education was based on these priciples…sadly lost in the modern education system championed by rote learning. Google has empowered students with ability to search for both arguments and counter arguments and hence restore to some extent the old wise ways. Yes social discovery of arguments has its own perils. Perils of consuming information which has bias embedded into it…but socialization of argument is a good embedded police to negate such biases.

Check this link for a biz opportunity on the same:

“Why digital is the devil for teachers –http://bit.ly/1Ht5XeR ”

(2) leaving the horrors and human-tyranny imposed by caste system aside for a little. There was once a wonderful eco-system of knowledge. There were the divine knowledge brahmins, the objective (outside society) brahmins and the social brahmins. Let me elucidate: divine knowledge brahmins had spiritual wisdom to impart (the ghora tapasvi – rishis and maha munis), then there were the objective brahmins (the snyasis who would shun materialism and existed outside society, but interacted and objectively studied society), the social brahmins were the karnams, pujaris, the doctors, the vastu experts, the marriage brokers and most importantly teachers. These used to be part of society and interact with society as fellow citizens and hence had a materialistic perspective of life and all its errors and opportunities.

Housed in the gurukuls, outside a community…but connected and dependant on it…these gurukuls used to host the spirtual leaders, the objectivity leaders and the social leaders…imagine how information and perspectives used to merge and jam and evolve for the benefit of the society. Knowledge from different perspectives used to merge and was able to guide living and life better.

Rightly the stranglehold that brahmins had on knowledge was destroyed and liberated…but this eco-system of exchange was lost too.

The relegation of Brahmin caste helped democratise knowledge, but we also lost this wonderful eco system. Imagine innovators connected to real society, administrative policies impacted by pragmatism of everyday life, lifestyle insights going directly into pharma industry and all embedded with social accountability due to this wonderful Eco system.

Last implemented by the vijayanagara empire (ashtha diggajas +)…this eco-system now is finding its way back into society. Whether in a minor way via TED talks and the likes or otherwise. Digital media is connecting the spirtualists, the PHD people, the social brahmins of the new age (by social brahmins…i do not mean caste but anybody who is doing a knowledge based job).

Divorced off the tyrannical caste system, I hope this Eco system rejuvenates itself, aided aptly by digital media.

Wish the Indian govt starts a village of this kind in Himachal or somewhere and broadcasts such jam sessions for public consumption and as inputs for governance.

(3) Naaniyon ke nuskhe (Grand mothers’ simple solutions): The industrialisation phenomenon changed social and filial structures. While an agrarian life needed many hands and joint family systems…the post-industrialization era does not need such a structure.

With the change in filial structure, there was a lobotomy of wisdom of life, due to the divorce of the old from the so called “immediate family”. Naniyon ke nuskhe were dying for one section of the society (predominantly urban section).

Capitalism found business opportunity in this knwoledge-divorce, and increased a nuclear family unit’s everyday dependence on an external advisor (with money as a core component to erstwhile insticutual advice).

Digital has democraticsed this and now naniyon ke nuskhe are back – especially in the social space.

With India growing young, the grey of wisdom will command a premium…there’s an amazing biz opportunity to start a platform where the experts of life for a minimum fee can actually dispense lil pragmatic bytes of wisdom.

These are just 3 examples that I am musing about now…but there are several more I am mulling over and am sure you have several you can point out as well.

What do you think…lemme know! Lets muse together…

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#UnYoung #wolfSIGHTS


50+ % of India is going to be under or just about 25. India is one of the youngest countries in the world.

What are the socio-cultural ramifications for those who don’t fit into this bracket of the most desirable/marketed demographic definition?.

Predominantly Urban India, but increasingly semi-urban & rural India seems to be afflicted with diseases of “Growing younger” & “Staying Young”. Have been witness to this during #stratalogues 2013.

50 yr olds trying to discover the elixir of jeans, anti-ageing creams and behaving young – rather than just feeling naturally “ageless” are premiumised, romanced & communicated.

Hey! looking & feeling old is the new social-taboo. Urban-Taboo!

40 is the new prime of youth according to Cosmo-magazines!

Why define feeling with age? Why imprison ageing with a demographic mindset?!

If you apply the famous disruption philosophy…is #StayingYoung the new convention?!. Is #UnYoung the new disruption?.

Europe & other geographies seem to be held at ransom for greying…so what’s wrong with greying?!.

Where is the place for the really old, while the “relatively old – mid 30’s to mid- 40’s ppl are still excused from the accusation of being tagged too old” – they make for a high disposable income, mid-life criss afflicted prime-marketing TG.

The premium on #WisdomOfGrey is lost on this world. Indian cities are turning into Roman arenas where the privileged old are the only ones who can afford the spectre of watching the instigated young war-it-out.

As the cosmopolitans breed the need for young, the old will migrate away. As the young migrate to cities, the old stay back in towns & villages…

The dissemination of the filial social-architecture of India & the abundance of the “Baghban phenomenon’ (elders bereft of the support of the youth of their kin) will result in ageing middle-towns!… Leading to growth of business categories in security for the elders, medical home care for elders , old age homes for the elderly rich– further propleled by the need of the criminalisation of the youth who stay back in smaller towns.

Security for the middle-town & the reverse-migrant rich old will sadly be a huge business-spawning need,

The rising need for the MCYS – Singapore sponsored award winning “filial Piety” kind of communication in India & Larger Asia too can be safely predicted. Government sponsored “Social Care Communication” will soon be a sad reality.

Rise in the segment of “green-seeking” retired urban warriors, Like-minded friend spawned retiring gated communities in India will be another business opportunity.

But yet the emotional need of the old & the aged to harvest their wisdom for the benefit of the young will be left unfulfilled.

Can we spur social-organizations to broker a marriage between the orphans of India and the listless middle-town/reverse-migratory aged of India and satiate a mutual need of the old seeking a venue to vent their wisdom and the young exhibiting a sponge for a source of wisdom?. Who will champion the much needed social-engineering?.

All this while, those classified as not-exactly-young in urban India will suitably suffer from capitalistism-propagated need to struggle against the natural instinct to age. We as an Asian collectively will suffer to stay young.

Everyday women shall look at themselves in the mirror and yearn for botox, staying slim and being desireable as per conventions, Everyday men will regret the prosperity of their paunches. Energy drinks consumption will rise, the not so young shall punish their life-rich bodies to behave young in the night bars (while the young abandon these places for becoming too uncley & aunty’ish joints).

Everyday the not-so-young will invent new excuses for self as well their august social-entourages to find a way to stay at home and not push the debaucherous cinderella timelines.

Once in a while they will secretly whisper to their close confidants that they really dont like to “pardy all night” and would rather lounge.

The rising convention of #StayYoung, will give birth to a new age disruption of being #UnYoung.

This new phenomenon will spawn a new urban tradition of being comfortable with the ageing process.

Not punishing yourself to be the air-guitar strumming, pub-hopping, crotch-hugging jeans clad not-so-young youth.

The next wave of idea-based businesses will arise out of catering to & easing the socio-cultural pressure for these relatively young and not so young consumers (mind you with a high disposable income).

#UnYoung will be the premium along with #PreimumOfGrey in this young Asia.

Fill a room predominantly with youngsters, brands preaching youth and presto! You have a convention being set-up to be broken!

Here’s a strategic instigation for brands to liberate the relatively young and the gracefully ageing from the tyranny of capitalism enforced youth!

#UnYoung possibly is the blue Ocean business opportunity in a red ocean of youth.

Interesting times in India & parts of younger Asia 😉

#UnYoung could be a huge liberation that a high-disposable income TG – who are the products of an erstwhile scarcity economy truly seek 😀