Idan Cohen on How Critical Thinking Improves Product Design

In Chapter 12 of 19 in his 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, Boxee co-founder and head of product Idan Cohen answers "What Have Your Experiences Taught You About What Makes a Product Great?"  Cohen talks about the satisfaction that comes from playing with things in everyday life.  He references the importance of critical thinking in the problem solving and design process.  He emphasizes the importance, whether it is with an object or a person, of linking the criticism to a positive development pathway or objective. 

This is Idan Cohen's Year 1 Capture Your Flag interview.  Cohen is co-founder and head of product at Boxee Inc, an online video software company.  Previous to Boxee, Cohen held telecom software innovation and developer roles at Comverse.  He was a Captain in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and graduated from Tel Aviv University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Geophysics and Art.


Erik Michielsen: What have your experiences taught you about what makes a product great?

Idan Cohen: I think that it’s just day-to-day life, when, you know, all day we play with things, and it’s just the feeling and, you know, it’s the frustration that we get through playing with them, or it’s the satisfaction we have after playing with them because they were so convenient or so simple or so beautiful, or so—I don’t know if I had specific experiences that helped me understand that better, but I think that we should all—it’s kind of like—I think that also it’s either you have it or not. There’s people who just get frustrated with things but don’t understand that it’s frustrating them and don’t understand—and don’t think all the time how can they fix that, and there’s these people who eventually end up making things with just, you know—they see the problems all the time, they’re very critical which is a good and bad character to have. 

It’s a little bit tiring to be very critical all the time. And I can be that but then that also teaches you, you know, every time you criticize something, just make sure you also think how can I do that better. And also when you—even if it’s about people and what they do, then if you criticize, just make sure to also figure out with them how that can be improved.