Classic Creativity Model Project
Synectics is a creative problem-solving technique which uses analogies and metaphors to analyze a problem and develop possible solutions. was developed by William J. J. Gordon and George M. Prince.
What were the persons background and expertise?
· William J. J. Gordon (1919-2003) was an inventor and psychologist. He developed many commercial patents for products and services.
· He was the leader of the Invention Design Group at Arthur D. Little.
· George M. Prince (1918-2009) was an advertising executive, author, psychologist and chairman of Synecticsworld. Prince conducted studies with creative people and psychologists to understand how new ideas could be generated to solve problems.
· Gordon and Prince met in 1958 while both worked at the Inventive Design Group at Arthur D. Little (ADL), an industrial research company in Boston, Massachusetts.
When was it developed?
· The Synectics model was developed in 1961.
What else is important to know about the history of the model?
· The main ideas of Synectics were conceived during studies on creative thinking which William Gordon conducted in 1944 while at Harvard University.
· The model was originally designed to develop ‘creativity groups’ in industrial organizations to solve problems and to develop products for companies.
· The basic principles and rules of Synectics were developed by Gordon and Prince while at Inventive Design Group at ADL.
· In 1961 Gordon and colleagues established Synecticsworld to focus on creativity and innovation training.
· Synectics was later adapted in education to develop creativity among school children.
How does it work
· A Synectic group is made up of 5-8 people and includes a facilitator (directs the group through the process), content expert (problem-owner), and participants (people from various backgrounds).
Synectics consists of the following major steps (Figure 1):
1. Problem as Given (PAG)
· A general statement of the problem to be solved as given by a facilitator or by an individual in the group.
· Analysis of the PGA – problem is made familiar by the participants who analyze and define the problem.
2. Create Direct Analogies
· Purge – participants discuss immediate solutions and viewpoints.
· Problem as understood – participants restate the problem as they understand it.
· Choice of Problem as Understood – selection of problem to work on.
3. Evocative Question (EQ)
· Evocative Questions for Direct Analogy – comparison of one thing with another
· Evocative Question for Personal Analogy – emphatic identification with something outside oneself
· Evocative Question for Book Title – crucial words or phrases which capture the essence of meaning of an object or activity or problem.
· Select one of the analogical examples
· Force Fit – example analogy is “force-fitted” to the problem that it may be viewed in a new way.
· View Point – view the problem from several angles to generate new ideas.
· Excursion – new examples can be used if new aspects of the problem are revealed.
5. Development of solution
· The solution is identified and written up.
· Actions are listed (what, when, who).
What are the components of the historical model?
This process involves two main activities (Gordon, 1961):
1. Making the strange familiar (defining the problem)
· Individuals force strangeness into acceptable patterns based on experiences or change biases to make room for the strangeness.
2. Making the familiar strange (using analogical tools to arrive at novel solutions).
· Conscious effort to achieve a new look at the old problems, patterns, ideas, people, feeling and things.
What are the applications of the model (and with who, how easy it is to use)?
· Synectics has been used in corporate organizations such as Microsoft, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, SPSS Inc., Hallmark, Disney, Universal Studios, 3M and Citibank; and in education and medical field.
· Licensed by over 400 major corporations worldwide.
· Synectics method is not difficult to learn or to use as it provides a framework for creative solutions.
· Several training programs, interactive business workshops, lesson plans, and textbooks have been developed using the Synectics method.
What research supports the model?
· The model is based on research conducted over several decades, including Gordon’s 1940s work on the conscious and subconscious activities during the process of the creative act and Prince’s 1950s work on creative people.
· Thousands of hours of audio and video recordings of inventing and problem solving sessions on how the process of invention occurred.
· Influenced by Jung and Freudian principles of psychoanalysis that imagination and the generation of ideas could be stimulated by the used of repressed thoughts.
· Influenced by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow theories that individuals were always striving for self-actualization.
What specialized vocabulary is involved (define terms)?
· Personal Analogy is the use of emotions and feelings to identify an individual with the subject of a problem.
· Direct Analogy is a comparison of two objects or concepts.
· Symbolic Analogy involves making use of objective and personal images to describe a problem.
· Fantasy Analogy takes the most desirable solutions by setting aside existing laws of nature, logic, and common sense.
· Compressed Conflict is a two-word description of an object in which the words seem to be opposites or contradict each other.
What are the major advantages or strengths of the model?
· Stimulates creative thinking in individuals and groups.
· Works well as a cooperative learning exercise.
· Can be adapted to many situations and applications.
· Allows divergent thinking processes.
· Reaches students with different learning styles.
· Enables the use of the imagination and senses.
· Useful in problem solving and brainstorming activities.
What are its limitations?
· The technique requires time and effort.
· The necessity of a trained leader or facilitator to keep the creative process in flow and for effective performance.
· The technique is not effective for work in large groups.
· The vocabulary of the model may inhibit some understanding of the psychology of problems solving.
· May be difficult to access resource material as some is trademarked.
Is it in use today and how has it changed over time?
· Successfully in the business world in a wide variety of situations.
· Synectics Education Initiative promotes the use of Synectics skills in the education system.
· Vincent Nolan and other users have developed the approach further over the past 50 years.
· The original nine-steps have been modified into other steps.
· Taught at Buffalo State College.
Is there training available?
· Synecticsworld provides training and facilitation certification program (synecticsworld.com/training/certification-programs).
What books, articles, manuals, websites, etc., are available to support the theory and
Gordon, W.J. J. (1961). Synectics: The development of the creative capacity. NY: Harper & Row.
Gordon, W. J. J. & Poze, T. (1971). The basic course in Synectics (Vol 1-6). Cambridge,
MA: Porpoise Books.
Gordon, W. J. J. (1972). Practice in Synectics problem-solving. Porpoise Books.
Gordon, W.J. J. (1973). The metaphorical way of learning and knowing. Cambridge, MA: Porpoise Books.
Gordon, W. J. J. & Poze, T. (1976). The art of the possible. Cambridge, MA: Porpoise Books.
Gordon, W.J.J. (1992). On being explicit about creative process. In S.J. Parnes (Ed.) Source book for creative problem solving (pp. 164-168). Buffalo, NY: Creative Education Foundation Press.
Gordon, W. J. J. & Poze, T. (1992). Conscious/subconscious interaction in a creative act. In S.J. Parnes (Ed.) Source book for creative problem solving (pp. 193-200). Buffalo, NY: Creative Education Foundation Press.
Nolan, V.C. (ed.) (2000) Creative Education: Educating a nation of innovators. Synectics Education Initiative, Stoke Mandeville.
Nolan, V.C. (2003) Whatever happened to Synectics? Creativity and Innovation Management, 12(1), 24-27.
Nolan, V. C., & Williams, C. (2010). Imagine that! Celebrating 50 years of Synectics. Synecticsworld, Inc.
Prince, G. M. (1968). The operational mechanism of Synectics. Journal of Creative Behavior, 2(1) 155-159.
Prince, G M. (1970). The Practice of creativity: A manual for dynamic group problem-solving. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.
Articles and Technical Reports
Jimenez, J. (1975). Synectics: A technique for creative learning. ERIC #EJ114909.
Prince, G. M. (1982). Synectics: Twenty-five years of research into creativity and group process. American Society for Training and Development, 91-103. Retrieved from https://georgemprince.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/synectics-25-years-of-reasearch-into-creativity-group-process.pdf
Websites: www.synecticsworld.com; www.synecticsworld.com; www.georgemprince.com; www.vincentnolan.co.uk.; www.georgemprince.com/booksarticles.htm; wikipedia.org
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