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Galactic Coffee Crisis - Episode 2: What’s the Problem & How Do We Define It, Ideation

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


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