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READ • ideate  Think • Repeat

In the past weeks, we created our "Galactic Coffee Crisis" scenario, introduced Design Thinking, and then grasped the root of the problem and moved on to the ideation stage. As we reach the end of this series as Design Thinkers, we have gained new perspectives and developed ideas related to the problem. But is it over there? No! The real action starts now… It’s time to bring those ideas to life. May the force (oops, coffee) be with us!

In the last part of the series, as we move towards prototyping, I’d like to list some solution suggestions. This way, we can see more clearly which prototype we are conceptually moving towards. Since we have deciphered our potential supply chain problem in the galactic coffee crisis, we can suggest some solutions at this stage:

  • Development of synthetic coffee that can be produced in a laboratory. (Cafe owners are very happy, but addicts are a bit in mourning)

  • Researching alternative energy sources for spaceships that can complement or replace coffee. (Pilots are very happy because their travels always smelled like burnt coffee anyway)

  • Implementing a galaxy-wide coffee recycling program, using only brewed and discarded coffee as fuel. (This seems to appeal to everyone, as the government can improve sustainability and efficiency, the burnt coffee smell isn’t as strong as before, cafe owners have first-hand access to coffee, and addicts can still drink fresh coffee)

Step 4: Hello Real Life - Prototyping

So far, everything was perfect at least in our imagination where we could fly as high as we wanted with solutions. Now, putting aside our thematic rules, we must choose a solution that satisfies everyone and see if it works. Because the sooner we understand that it doesn’t work, the faster we can find the idea that does. Reverse logic. Fortunately, prototyping the coffee recycling program is easy. We need to process the coffee that is about to be thrown away and turn it into space fuel. For this process, let’s say we prepare a friendly processing sieve (made of plastic), add some bio-synthetic material (since we don’t have it now, we add artificial peanut butter, which our research shows gives quite a lot of energy), and a functional cardboard box prototype to collect coffee waste without disturbing anyone’s comfort and habits.

Step 5: The Stage is Ours - Testing

Since our job was to find a collective solution that would make all stakeholders happy, then they should try this prototype one by one. We give the cardboard box prototype that doesn’t disrupt behavior to the galaxy cafe owners, the plastic processing sieve to the galaxy municipal workers processing waste (along with the artificial peanut butter), and the processed low-smell coffee waste to the galaxy space agency to test as space fuel. So;

  • Pilots will be able to try the new coffee in their engines.

  • Cafe owners will understand if there is any extra workload or side effect and will be willing to provide waste smoothly.

  • Authorities will evaluate its impact on the economy and safety.

Step 6: Make or Break - Feedback

After multiple tests and feedback, our waste coffee is refined and ready to be marketed as a sustainable fuel alternative! It meets the pilots’ need for reliable fuel with less burnt coffee smell, reduces the performance pressure on farmers as the supply issue is resolved, makes cafe owners happy as they can keep up with customers and earn extra fees for each waste delivered, coffee addicts can still drink fresh coffee, and the galactic government officials have increased efficiency by 65%. It seems everyone is happy - Congratulations, we solved an entire intergalactic supply chain problem in a way that makes everyone happy… just like a designer ;)


I don’t know if the Galactic Coffee Crisis scenario perfectly aligns with real life for you, but at any given moment, at least as complex a problem is happening somewhere in the world. Supply chain crises aren’t exactly rare these days… Design thinking, by bringing all stakeholders to the same table, considering everyone’s needs, empathizing, clearly defining problems, seeing the root causes of problems, thinking boldly, prototyping, and testing, can be used to effectively tackle even the most unusual or complex challenges. Many companies hire design thinking either to solve their own problems or their users’ problems.

What about you? Would you hire design thinking to solve any of your problems? Remember, no problem is too big or too small for this approach! - technically, if we can solve a Galactic coffee crisis ;)

Editor: Merve Aydiner

Supportive Editor & Idea Catalizor: ChatGPT4

Last week, we introduced our "Galactic Coffee Crisis" scenario, marking the beginning of our journey into Design Thinking. We introduced our main characters and the parties affected by this universal problem. This week, we delve into the process of developing creative solutions to this complex problem. Let’s explore how we can solve this crisis.

Step 1: It's not about Me; It's about You; Empathy.

Empathy is one of the strongest forms of communication among all living beings. When faced with a complex problem, it's never just about us – there are always others affected by it, and complex problems are solved "cumulatively." In other words, we need to unite our efforts! To achieve this unity in the real world, it's crucial to communicate and understand each other's conditions. It’s like saying, “One for all, and all for one.” Why is this important? We might be reluctant to solve the issues we experience, or rather, we might not grasp the root of the problem. But if we are to bring everyone to the table, we need to understand everyone.

Who do we need to understand in the coffee crisis?

  • Owners of the Galactic Space Cafe (Mowky and Pete): They are worried about losing revenue as coffee stocks dwindle.

  • Spaceship Pilots: They fear being stranded or unable to complete their journeys, potentially getting sucked into a black hole.

  • Coffee Farmers: They are stressed due to the pressure to increase production with limited resources, struggling to manage their resources, and facing the risk of being raided.

  • Government Officials: They need to ensure stability and find a sustainable solution to the shortage, or risk facing a rebellion and an intergalactic trade crisis.

In such a situation, managing a limited resource to meet everyone's needs requires first bringing everyone to the table and listening to them. Sometimes, if possible, experiencing the situation through role-play, spending a day closely with those experiencing the problem, can help us understand the root of the issue, the emotions, motivations, and needs of others. Interviews and surveys are good, but observing behavior tells us more than words can. Of course, it’s important to respect personal boundaries during observations; you don’t want to alienate your problem stakeholders ;) After that, we try to template what we’ve learned with the right tools, such as an empathy map. Design thinking's ability to solve a complex problem by making it seem easy lies in its systematic examination while not excluding stakeholders.

Step 2: What’s the Reality; Define it.

The most important point of the empathy stage is its ability to make us see the unnoticed. Because we force ourselves to look at things at an atomic level. And if you're in the middle of a galactic coffee crisis, this is crucial. In a problem where we are racing against time, getting lost in excessive details is a waste of time, but if we don't look deeply enough, we continue to seek solutions in a whirlpool. Tools like empathy maps allow us to understand people while also letting us see the root causes of behaviors. If we are solving a problem related to coffee, we need to look at the entire process from production, harvesting, processing, selling, market conditions, users, suppliers, and many other points. While doing this, we listen to stakeholders one by one, and by meaningfully combining what Galactic Cafe owners Mowky and Pete, interplanetary supply chain manager Yoyo, and coffee addict Paco have to say, we can get a clear problem statement: The galaxy's coffee supply is blocked because intergalactic travel has increased, and we have consumed much more than the allocated volume for spaceship fuel. So, what do we do now? It seems there is a need for a sustainable and reliable alternative or improvement in coffee supply.

Step 3: Show Me What You’ve Got - Ideation.

Ideation might be the most favorite and inherently talented common activity we all have. It’s an activity we can and do continuously without being systematic. So why not use it a bit differently? Design thinking talks about progressing systematically and measurably. Ideation can be the craziest part of these stages but often scares us.

Every time we sit down to ideate, we fight some invisible ghosts (my ideas aren’t good, Ali will definitely suggest something better, oh this is too hard, someone must have already done this), making us unaware of our own superpower. Sometimes, we also overlook our helpers. One of the main jobs of our brain is to solve problems, to make life easier. To make it more barrier-free for it, any tool is fair game: mind mapping, expressing with post-its, drawing stick figures. There is only one rule: there is no such thing as a silly idea (at least at this stage), and no idea is impossible. Show me what you’ve got!

Since we have deciphered our potential supply chain problem in the galactic coffee crisis, we can suggest some solutions at this stage. However, what we will suggest will be the topic of next week’s article. Of course, you can continue to ideate in the meantime!

Remember, we will invite the owner of the "best and most innovative" idea shared in the comments to Monday Innovators Club for free on Monday evening!

Until we meet next week, keep your coffee cups full and your pencils sharp!

Editor: Merve Aydiner

Supportive Editor & Idea Catalizor: ChatGPT4

Design Thinking, has been a significant presence in our lives for quite some time. There are numerous resources and applications available. To briefly define it, Design Thinking is known as a user-centric, creative problem-solving approach. This methodology is famed for its human-centered approach, especially in solving complex problems. The aim is to gather everyone involved around a table, solving the problem collaboratively with cumulative knowledge. It fundamentally consists of five stages: Empathy, defining the problem, ideation, prototyping, and testing. Each stage is interconnected, and the process is not linear—it may take steps back at times. This approach aims to make the solution process more flexible and adaptable, ultimately creating real value for the end-user.

However, today's goal is not just to demonstrate how impressive or straightforward the model is, but to experience it—and yes, to experience it in a somewhat absurd manner! This three-week blog series has been designed for us to experience how Design Thinking can be applied through the Galactic Coffee Crisis. Our aim is not just to solve a problem, but also to learn how this process is conducted by trying it out.

Our First Week: Hello Galactic Coffee Crisis…

If we assume we are heading towards a future where coffee lovers prevail, how would we feel if coffee suddenly disappeared from the world? - I might cause a little trouble at my next meeting :) - But why do we standardize the potential coffee shortage issue during the space age only according to Earth? Couldn’t aliens love coffee too? Or considering the possibility of intergalactic travel, what if we all experienced a coffee crisis together in the universe? My God, that would be terrifying… But thankfully, as humans, we are a species well-equipped and adept at solving complex, interconnected problems. And fortunately, one of the tools we've developed is design thinking.

Let’s Set Up Our Problem Scene;

Imagine coffee's sole duty in the universal arena isn't just to wake you up; it also powers spaceships as a next-generation fuel hero! (Of course, spaceships run on caffeine, we won't question gasoline in the future) Yet, we and our galactic neighbors suddenly face an unprecedented crisis; a severe coffee bean shortage, endangering all space travel! Among the key players in this crisis are the owners of the Galactic Space Cafe (Mowky and Pete), spaceship pilots, intergalactic coffee farmers, and galactic government officials. This problem is a typical multi-stakeholder issue asking how we can please everyone and actually provides a sufficient scenario to experience design thinking, so let’s get started!

Now, throughout this three-week blog series, our goal is to involve you in solving the complex problem of the Galactic Coffee Crisis - yes, solving it alone isn't fun! Each week, I will be waiting for your ideas and solution suggestions. At the end of the series, there is a prize for the participant with the most innovative and applicable solution proposal: free entry into the Design Thinking section of the Monday Innovators Club!

Share your ideas with me and discover learning by doing at the Monday Innovators Club - we have even more eccentric problems there… Come on then, fingers on keyboards, pens in notebooks, computers on digital panels; how will we save our galaxy from the coffee crisis? ;)

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