Defining, a concrete and factual-based analysis, appears to conflict with the word creative in most cases, yet for engineering and communications, it is the underlying imperative. What does this mean to the engineer, the client, the contractor or simply the person trying to communicate?
Remember the first year of engineering classes? Even if you never took those classes, keep reading, because this applies in a great many instances. The first thing our educators pounded into our brains, the step that must never be overlooked, as it defined the future, was the creation of a box that surrounded the problem and also defined the inputs and outputs. If we failed this first step, we generally missed everything else, including a passing grade on our assignments.
Lets take that lesson and bring it into the settings of engineering, projects and communications. How we define our box and identify our inputs and outputs defines our deliverables and hence our success in all realms. In this case, communications are also included; how many times have office-to-office, internal office instructions or perhaps client-to-contractor scopes of work or requests completely failed when the box has not been adequately defined and the required outcome clearly pinpointed?
Engineering design, defining the box, has a simple corner stone, a step-by-step process, which can be used in numerous facets on any job or in any occupation. This is not the entire engineering design process; it is the guide by which all things are measured, solved and communicated. To define our box we must first produce the following: a need statement, need analysis and need summary. Following this, we identify and list all of the performance and functional requirements. If we follow these steps, we can communicate, design and create solutions to our work challenges on any scale.
In many instances our pre-conceived notions, historical knowledge, ego, inability to listen and so on cloud our communications and our ability to arrive at the best solutions possible. Clearly define your box so you can think outside of it, communicate your needs and requirements to others, and have a solid platform on which you can create the best possible solutions.