Step 5: Redefining the problem definition


I have identified the data I require and may have found already existing solutions that are related to my topic.
→ And what now?

Find the difference between wanted and existing situation, see which aspects cannot be dealt with by using existing solutions.


  • Which gap is left between the recent situation and the wanted future situation?

If you haven’t already read the introductions to bottom-up and top-down project structures and communication problems we suggest you follow these links and do so now, this will give you a basic understanding on the driving forces behind communication problems.  


Consider the Relationships between participating stakeholders

Now that the project is in process, it provides the opportunity to consider the relationships between all the stakeholders involved in the project. Possible contention between stakeholders should be identified and addressed as soon as possible within the project process.

Strong relationships between stakeholders based on mutual respect and trust are key to the success of a project.

COMMUNICATION CHALLENGE – Problems in the Relationships between participating stakeholders

The effect of cultural differences between different professions can give rise to problems in the relationships between stakeholders. Relationships in collaborative projects form the foundation from which to work towards the projects aims, they are complex, and may require years of interaction to build, but are crucial to a projects success and as a result should not be overlooked.

Problems may arise directly from the differences in working culture outlined in “Introduction before you start: Why communication problems occur and why they are important?”. The language barrier may also contribute through misunderstandings, as well as traditional role problems when roles are misunderstood or a stakeholder finds their newly allocated role difficult to adjust to. In essence, in order to work together to obtain a shared goal, respect and trust need to be nurtured and mutual understanding developed between partners.

For more information on:

  1. Relationships between participating stakeholders
  2. Problems that arise from problems in the relationships between stakeholders
  3. Real project examples of Scientific Cultural differences

→ Link to level 3 information; thesis chapter 2.9.4. pgs 19-20 , 4.3.1. pgs 51-57; thesis appendix table 1. pgs 24-25)

COMMUNICATION SOLUTIONS – Eliminating Problems and building Strong Relationships

  • Bridging Role Gaps- Having an individual or organisation with a diverse background work as a communicator and translator can bridge the gaps between different stakeholder groups, making communication smoother. This is of special importance with regards to communication with members of the scientific community and when sourcing scientific inforrmation. (4.4.3 pg 86-89, appendix pg 42)
  • Education- Raise your own awareness, find out more about how other stakeholder groups work, and what their work entails. Knowing what is required of an individual in their job will help you decide what information would be most relevant to them, and areas in which they may need a more basic explanation. (thesis chapter 4.4.6 pg 92-93, appendix pg 43)
  • Two-way communication- By making sure communication always allows for the participation of both or all parties, important feedback and valuable opinions will be heard, all perspectives should be valued. (thesis chapter 4.4.1. pg 83-84, appendix pg 41)
  • Target-audience based communication- Keep in mind who you are talking to, and adjust the way you convey your message accordingly. Different stakeholder groups have different interests and field of expertise. A message should be simple and concise when aimed at individuals who don’t share your background. (4.4.2. pg 85-86, appendix pg 41)
  • Trust building- Trust between partners is essential for the success of any project, it will ensure good relationships and is especially important when new roles have been assigned. Cultivating trust is a powerful way of vastly increasing your project’s chances of success (2.9.4 pg 19-20, 4.4.10 pg 98-99, appendix pg 44)
  • Networking – Forming connections between different organisations or individuals with mutual interests can initiate a relationship involving information and knowledge sharing, collaboration and mutual benefit. (4.4.11 pg 101-102, appendix pg 44)
  • Collaboration and cooperation - Naturally, good collaboration of the participants in a project as well as their cooperation in order to reach the same goals is an important process. (2.9.7 pg 21- 23, 4.4.12 pg 102-103, appendix pg 44)
  • Role redefinition and reallocation- Bottom-up projects call for bottom-up roles for each stakeholder, suited to their expertise and maximizing the efficiency of the project. Discussions and reallocation of roles should occur early on in the project, and should include the participation of all stakeholders. (4.4.4 pg 89-91, appendix pg 42)
  • Giving recognition and credit- Providing recognition and credit to those stakeholders who have reached their goals and are an asset to the team of your project is a powerful way to ensuring continued enthusiasm and motivation. It is also a way of giving feedback and reassuring stakeholders that they are valued and an integral part of the project. (4.4.8. pg 95-97, appendix pg 44)