Communication, Networking, Daily Problem-Solving


Problem solving, networking and communication all work together and benefit from each other. Communication and networking are necessary for solving problems, and problem-solving is often needed to enable smooth communication and networking. At the core of the process is a human being, a human interaction, an actor and whose needs are met.

Let’s take an example: Creating or Upgrading a Product

Imagine you need to create or upgrade a product; this is the problem to solve.


Firstly, you will need to understand the consumers and communicate with them – who might potentially buy the product, what are their needs, lifestyle and culture?
How can you find this information out? Can you involve them in the design of the product? Use networking to harness different groups of people in the process: the product development, someone might know a producer, seller, or publicist; this is networking.


Now you may need to make the consumers aware of the new product – you need to communicate. This is now your problem to solve. You need to reach people but for that you need to understand them and other people to help you. You might find the right people from your networks or create new contacts and networks to create the event.

This session will observe all three parts. First, we will look at communication, then networking, and last but not least, problem solving.

Parts of this unit

Part 1 - Communication

Communication: the exchange of ideas, opinions and information through written or spoken words, symbols or actions

Communication is the essence of life. It is a necessity. Human beings need to communicate to express themselves, their feelings, pass on information to others and share their thoughts.

Communication may be intentional or unintentional, it may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or non-linguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes.

Communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. For communication to be effective, the message must mean the same thing to both the sender and the receiver.

Communication in Business

 ‘Lack of communication has lost wars’

Good communication in business is important because:

  • without a proper interaction between the team, a whole business strategy might be ruined
  • it ensures a better development of ongoing projects
  • it keeps employees engaged and allows everyone to understand their tasks

People in organisations typically spend over 75% of their time in a social situation, communicating with one or a few others.  It is therefore not a surprise to find that the root of many organisational problems is poor communication.  Good communication may help to increase job satisfaction, safety, productivity, profits, and decrease grievances and turnover.

Communication Channels

A communication channel is the means through which a message is sent to its intended receiver. Within these channels, business communications can be formal, informal or unofficial.

  1. Verbal (oral/spoken)
  2. Non-verbal – appearance, body language, facial expressions, sounds (tone, speed, volume)
  3. Written – emails, texts, reports, newsletters)
  4. Electronic/Multimedia – social media, blogs, company webpages, TV broadcasts


Type of channel



Oral communication

Build relationships and trust; accelerate decision-making due to immediate feedback.

Spontaneous nature may lead to unwise statements; people are unable to refer to the communication unless a record is made.

Written communication

Message can be revised for exactness; can be archived for reference; can be studied. Appropriate for legal and formal business functions.

Message is static; sender does not receive immediate feedback. Hard for the sender to know if the receiver has understood.


Instant, global and adaptable to multiple targets.

Technical difficulties and hack attacks threaten the security of organisations and their customers/clients.


Barriers to Communication

Communication is a process beginning with a sender who encodes the message and passes it through some channel to the receiver who decodes the message. Communication is fruitful if and only if the messages sent by the sender is interpreted with same meaning by the receiver

Effective communication involves overcoming these barriers and conveying a clear and concise message by continually checking understanding and by offering appropriate feedback.

Examples of Barriers:

  • Jargon
  • Lack of attention/interest
  • Differences in viewpoint
  • Physical disabilities
  • Misreading non-verbal communication
  • Power struggles
  • Information overload
  • Time pressure
  • Distrust
  • Lingual differences
  • Prejudice
  • Poor retention
  • Gender barriers
  • Cultural differences
Part 2 - Networking

Networking is one of the most essential personal skills for business people and is extremely important for entrepreneurs.  Having good communication and maintaining strong presence in the entrepreneurial world will be productive and will help you to build strong relationships with other entrepreneurs from different age groups, nationalities and fields of interest. Networking is powerful in many different ways. Not only will entrepreneurs feel inspired and motivated after attending specific events or meet ups, but also many exceptional opportunities can occur if they impress potential investors or business partners.

It is widely studied that business networks can provide participants with information and advice, knowledge of new business opportunities, and relationships that may prove useful in operating a business.

What to do next

Connections open doors, doors to money, markets and qualified managers and employees. You can easily start to expand your network with this list of seven tips:

  1. Pick your venue. There are plenty to choose from. You can choose gender-specific hosted events by national associations or industry specific organisations or general business groups such as Chambers of Commerce.
  2. Know your elevator speech. You are not here to make a sale, so you do not need to close the deal. You do need to let people know who you are and what you do in a way that makes them want to hear more.
  3. Ask questions. Women are great at building closeness and connections through conversation. By asking questions, you will engage the person and really get to know what they do.
  4. Speak to lots of people. To network well, have a brief conversation with one person and move on to the next.
  5. Go ready to give. Not come with the goal of getting something. Give something first. Do not worry about the quid pro quo. The benefit of helping may not come immediately, but it will in six months to a year.
  6. Follow up afterwards. If you want to get to know someone better, follow up after the meeting with a phone call, a one-on-one meeting or connect with them on LinkedIn.
  7. Take the pressure off. You are not establishing a long-term relationship yet. You are just opening the door to possible relationships. If someone seems interesting, contact them later to get started on that relationship.
Part 3 - Problem Solving

‘The heart of business is the art of problem solving. – Dan Roam

Problem-solving refers to a series of planning, decisions and actions taken for finding a solution to a defined problem or problems. The process can involve one or more individuals, have different durations and magnitudes of problems to solve, and it can be used different purposes from everyday life to business related problems. Problems to solve may be singular and simple or complex with a main issue and several sub-problems to solve, and problems to solve may change during the problem-solving process. Common sense, creativity and the ability to detect problems are among the main ingredients of problem-solving.

The problem-solving process, at its simplest, can be presented in three core stages (MIT):

  1. Identifying a problem and finding the root cause.
  2. Developing possible solution paths,
  3. Taking the appropriate course of action.

The core elements of problem solving are:

  1. Problem. Understanding that there is a problem (that needs to be solved). The problem may be easy to identify, e.g. a broken dishwasher, or one needs to investigate the real problem further (wicked problems). Understanding the problem helps to understand its root cause.
  2. Context of the problem. Consider the constraints that will influence potential solutions, and which participants to involve in the problem-solving process. Constraints limit and problem-solving process, e.g. the time you have. The legal, geographical, economic and cultural context provide essential information about constraints.
  3. Process of problem solving to find the solution. Identifying the problem is part of this. The problem-solving process, at its simplest, can be presented with three core stages:
  • Identify a problem and finding the root cause.
  • Develop possible solution paths,
  • Take the appropriate course of action.

Usually more stages and content are added, such as identifying the problem, understanding the context, assessment of the outcomes and learning from the outcomes and the process.

  1. People:
  • Who benefits from solving the problem (users, customers, etc.): The benefit and added value for them. Do they take part in solving the problem? Consider their perspectives and experiences.
  • Who can solve the problem: Who might you need, what kind of expertise and qualities they should have? Where are they? What do they do? Is the beneficiary and the solver the same person?
  • Competitors and competing alternatives. One should be well aware of your competitors, who and where they are and how they act. Knowing your competitors is essential.
  1. Common sense, creativity and thinking outside the box: Creative thinking helps to find better solutions and identify problems better, whereas common sense keeps you grounded.

Thinking outside the box and understanding people are highly recommended in spotting problems and in creating solutions for them. One cannot create functional solutions without thinking about who is going to use it, whom is it for and how they use it, how will the solution help them. Problems can be spotted anywhere. Just listen and observe the people, investigate the culture, the ecosystem of the sector, policies and research outcomes, combine and merge different things, give space to silliness and listen to your passion as these can reveal gaps and new opportunities for business, product and service ideas.  Have you ever thought how many lucrative ideas have started from “silly” ideas?

Use your problem-solving as a story.  What makes the solution (product/service), recognisable, differentiates it, and creates a brand. The form of this communication can be e.g. written, visual (e.g. colours, images, layouts), tactile (e.g. materials used), choices made (e.g. no plastic bags), tone (e.g. serious, playful, mysterious), auditory (e.g. music, sounds, volume), or associative (e.g. who we connect with, where we show up, are we expensive, etc.). Stories also start living by themselves and create more stories. At the era of Social Media stories have an exceptionally great potential. Not only companies tell stories, but also brand evangelists, the free customer/marketers, opinion leaders who often operate, e.g. in Social Media as vloggers and bloggers or on Instagram. 

It is More Than a Process: 10 Thinking and Designing Methods Towards Solutions

The problem-solving benefits from alternative thinking styles and methods. Herewith are presented 10 commonly suggested ones.

  1. Creativity facilitates detecting problems, looking at them from different perspectives, and to generate ideas. Creativity boosting methods can be used, but at the root of it all are imagination, openness, lowering ego, risk-taking and the right state of mind.
  2. Divergent and convergent thinking are used in problem solving. First, during a divergent phase, e.g. ideas are generated. This is followed by a convergent phase which focuses on narrowing the ideas and options. The increased understanding of the problem facilitates the work during the convergent phase. The process is repeated as many times as necessary.
  3. Iteration: The problem-solving process is rarely linear. At some point you may notice that you need additional information or that the direction of the work has been wrong. It is time to go back to the point from where it is good to continue again. This is not a failure, but a success as it clarifies the process and you have just eliminated a potentially wrong way to go.
  4. Visualisation is one of the most effective ways to explain something. It can help to explain the problem, the solution and shows relationships, sequels and emphasis. For instance drawing, photos, colours, words, charts, objects, etc. can be used for visualisation.
  5. Design methods and Design Thinking provide tools and methods that can be used in finding information and framing and solving problems, especially wicked ones. The design approach helps to find more human-, customer and user-oriented solutions in a creative manner.
  6. People and participation: Listening to people and the society in different ways, making people participate in e.g. workshops, role play, stories, co-creation and open innovation, but also training people to find solutions as users and as facilitators (e.g. staff in a company), help implementing the solution and obtaining genuine information for the solution.
  7. Concepts, rough representations of a solution, are used to represent findings and solutions. Usually at least three different concepts are made, e.g. one progressive, one similar to the current solution, and one that is between the two.
  8. Market information: Interviews, customer feedback, chatting with users and customers, data from market surveys and sales (or other), netnography, data from Social Media, etc. provide interesting information and early signs for potential problems and for solutions.
  9. Rapid experiments: Rapid experiments help trying out solutions in an economic and quick way without a big investment. They will show quickly is the solution may work or not and help obtaining new solutions. The time to run a rapid experiment depends on the solution.
  10. Mind map and process descriptions facilitate noticing relationships and different actors of problems, and the cause effects. Many people can contribute to mind maps with fresh viewpoints hence broadening the idea of the problem.


Examples of solving everyday problems in business

There are many everyday problems to solve in life and in entrepreneurship. Here are 5 tips and examples how creativity, everyday solutions and hacks, and alternative thinking can help in this:

  1. How to have a fancy interior of a shop or an office? Use second-hand furniture, personalise the space. This often creates a more intimate and comfortable atmosphere. Play with walls, how about painting walls into blackboards and draw on them with chalks? Or why not to cover walls with old newspapers? Add a book or two, use your children’s drawings and interesting details. These can make people talk and new people visit your shop
  1. Save on business cards: why not to use a stamp on a water coloured paper? Or paint your own images on a sheet of paper, cut them and stamp your information on them.
  1. How to get the first opinions on products? Ask your family and friends, have students commenting your products, use Social Media or go one day to the market place.
  1. Market research? Students need assignments. You can have them to do for example market research for you with very little resources.
  1. Packaging: Depending on the product, you can start e.g. with silk paper, newspapers or e.g. brown paper. Add there your sticker, a ribbon and something else. Voilá! Now you have an economic, ecologic and a beautiful package.

You can invent many more. Women are full of resources and ideas.


Examples of Companies Solving Problems and Creating Business Opportunities

In these three cases solving problems in the society has created business opportunities.

Rags2Riches (R2R)

Rags2Riches is a social enterprise from the Philippines that provides fashionable, ethic, sustainable and ecological bags and accessories handmade by the local craftswomen. The company was founded by Reese Fernandez-Ruiz who, when working as a teacher at one of the Philippines largest dumpsites saw the social consequences of poverty and how women tried to earn their living by making rugs from fabric scraps. This gave her an idea to combine the skills of these craftswomen and design with marketing and a logistic chain. Today, R2R is a respected ‘fashion and design house empowering community of artisans’ (R2R), that has increased the quality of the life of the craftswomen working for it and their families through, for instance, financial and health training, an opportunity for social security, education, and a notably increased income. The social responsibility and eco-ethic aspect have positively contributed to the company’s brand.

Through its activity R2R addresses societal and environmental challenges despite the low financial investment. R2R delivers a strong message, networks with the right people and understands people’s desires and needs. More about the story at: The Filipino Women Turning Rags into High Fashion

Pulp Pantry

“What do you do with your pulp?” was the question that lead to the business of Kaitlin Mogentale and Ashley Miyasaki. The Californian company produces grain-free granola, snacks and baking made from the left-over pulp of juicing from juice bars. Besides recycling and reducing waste, Pulp Pantry promotes healthier eating habits and ecologic approach. It focuses on lifestyle and desirability by making eating fruits and vegetables cool.

Through its activity Pulp Pantry addresses the issue of food waste, recycling and poor nutritional content of food despite the low financial investment. R2R uses communication, storytelling, branding and promoting lifestyle. (See the references at the end)


FoodCloud is an Irish social enterprise that tackles food waste and poverty. The FoodCloud app connects business with surplus food with charities needing food to distribute to those in need, and let’s know that food is ready for collection. FoodCloud has since expanded its activity to the UK. Through its activity FoodCloud addresses the issue of food waste, recycling and poverty. It uses the latest technology as vehicle and enabler of communication and networking between the app users.

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