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Systems engineering: Challenging complexity
Systems engineering: Challenging complexity

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Stage 1: Problem definition (what is the problem?)

The aim of the first stage is to identify and describe the problem or opportunity. While each stage depends on the success of the previous stage, it is the initial stages of a project that set the direction for the work as a whole. For this reason a clear definition and firm agreement on the problem or opportunity are essential.

Problems and opportunities are like two sides of a coin: one of them can always be formulated in terms of the other. The best way to distinguish between them is to think of:

  • a problem as an unwelcome deviation from a standard or expected state of affairs – its solution involves the restoration of the existing, satisfactory state of affairs

  • an opportunity as a chance to improve on the existing state of affairs.