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Design Thinking - A Practitioner's Perspective

Melvyn Tan
Melvyn Tan
2 min read

What do you do when you’re asked to solve a problem? Do you jump right into brainstorming mode? Or would you do what a “designer” would?

As it turns out, a designer knows a thing or two about solving problems.

Innovation tools

We get it. Innovation is key. Innovation is what will set us apart from the competition.

Innovation is what drives us to look beyond “stealing other’s lunches” to creating a bigger pie, no pun intended.

However, most innovation tools fail because they are focused on problem-solving rather than problem-defining.

Applying innovation to coffee

Think of the French Press. What most people like about the French Press is its convenience. It is easy to use and it does a pretty decent job.

The main downside? It doesn’t hold the heat. Coffee left standing gets cold pretty fast. Cold coffee tastes horrible. They are sour and give you gastric.

Enter the Espro Press. It works just like a French Press, but it keeps your coffee hot! Problem solved? Well, yes and no.

It did solve the problem of keeping my coffee hot, but it is still a French Press after all.

Enter the Nespresso machine. The famous K-Cups weren’t even popular or known in Asia. Clever marketing and George Clooney introduced the world of capsule coffee to the world. And to my world.

During one of my trips to Paris in 2009, I was bombarded with the Nespresso/Clooney advertisement every morning. Guess what I bought when I returned to Singapore? Yes! A Nespresso machine.

The machine does make an awesome cup of gourmet coffee. I can have a cup of hot coffee whenever my heart so desire. And yes, the machine is easy to maintain. No messy filters and elaborate washing to deal with.

Practitioner’s perspective

You see, design thinking is simply embracing the way designers think about solving a problem. A good designer designs a better solution. A great designer stays with the problem slightly longer.

A great designer dives deeper into the problem. Seeking to understand the real issues behind the problem. Asking questions like:

  • What is it about French Press that drivers their owners nuts?
  • Why are people not willing to pay more for a better French Press?
  • What do people look for when they drink a cup of coffee?
  • What desires do they have when they drink a cup of coffee?
  • Is there a need or a want that coffee drinkers are looking for that is not currently met?

By asking these questions, the designer would have never arrived at the Espro Press. Sorry guys, but that’s the truth.

So, how do you like your coffee?

Melvyn Tan

Despite living the good life at midlife, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. My aim here is to reinvent midlife, learn new skills, and understand how the world works post-COVID.