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Galactic Coffee Crisis - Episode 3: Ocean of Ideas, Let’s Hit the Ground

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


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