Background: Based on their work at the Arthur D. Little Invention Design Group, George Prince, Bill Gordon, and their colleagues set out in the 1950s to remove the unpredictability of achieving creative results from their attempts to solve client problems. By 1960 the success of their research prompted them to leave the Little group and form their own company, called Synectics.


The name Synectics combines Greek word parts and suggests, "the bringing together of diverse elements."

Description The basis of Synectics lies in the meaning of the name. Throughout a Synectics session, the facilitator is responsible for bringing together and guiding a diversity of people, their divergent ideas, and random stimulation. This is accomplished in planning as well in the idea-generating sessions.

1. Planning

In order to ensure success of the session, the facilitators and others responsible for finding solutions, including what the Synectics method describes as the problem owners, prepare by doing the following:

  • Identify the problem owners and make sure they want new solutions.
  • Make sure the problem owners have the power to implement new solutions.
  • Understand the problem owners' mindsets with regard to the problem area.
  • Understand the parameters of the expected solution.
  • Define the expectations of the problem owners.

2. Session

In general, the following steps are followed and re-cycled as necessary to accomplish the idea-generating goals of the problem owners.
  • Problem owner describes the problem in terms of wishes, that is, expressed as, "I wish..."
  • The group generates as many solution approaches, called springboards, as possible.
  • The group and problem owners select and focus on generating solution ideas for the most promising springboards.

Any number of brainstorming or idea-generating techniques or exercises may be used to help along the solution generating process. For example: paraphrasing, itemized response, analogies, excursions, free association, random stimuli, and others.

Throughout the session the facilitator is responsible for cultivating and maintaining an atmosphere of speculative thinking and open-ended contribution that attracts diverse ideas and protects participants from criticism.

Where to Learn Synectics

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