Synectics is a set of process tools which can be used in an explicit order or individually according to the requirements of the situation. Synectics incorporates the brainstorming principle of suspending judgment and broadens it to defining problems, objectives and needs. It uses metaphorical processes to stimulate thinking.
Synectics is used to spark the creative process and uncover new views to solving problems. This brainstorming tool will provide learners with a method for gaining new insights into otherwise ordinary or awkward topics. Synectics can be used with all ages and works well with learners who withdraw from conventional instructional methods.
Teacher-facilitators can use synectics in the classroom by leading learners to describe the topic, create direct analogies, describe personal analogies, identify compressed conflicts, create a new direct analogy, and reexamine the original topic.
Step 1: Describing the Topic
The teacher-facilitator chooses a word or topic and asks learners to describe the topic, either in small group discussions or by individually writing a paragraph; e.g., AUTOMOBILES. used by a car manufacturer to come up with product more appealing to consumers.
Step 2: Creating Direct Analogies
The teacher-facilitator chooses another word or topic and asks the learners to create a list that would have the same characteristics as those words or phrases listed in Step 1. A direct analogy is established to compare the two words, images, or concepts; e.g., How are AUTOMOBILES and COMFORT alike? The learners are asked to create dramatic mental images. Mental images are significant tools in the synectics process.
Step 3: Describing Personal Analogies
The learners are asked to choose one of the direct analogies and create personal analogies. Learners “become” the object they choose and then explain what it feels like to be that object; e.g., How would it feel to be an automobile that is comfortable?
Step 4: Identifying Compressed Conflicts
The learners are asked to pair words from the list created in Step 3 which seem to contradict each other. Learners should always be asked to explain why they selected the words which contradict. Learners then choose one by voting; e.g., How are environment and repair plans different?
Step 5: Creating a New Direct Analogy
With the compressed conflict pair voted upon by the learners, ask them to make a different direct analogy by selecting something that is described by the paired words; e.g., How are environment and repair plans like style, color, size, etc.?
Step 6: Reexamining the Original Topic
Go back to the original idea or problem so that the student may produce a product or description that employs the ideas created in the process. Learners may focus on the final analogy or use analogies made in the other four steps.
Synectics is dependent upon an open, permissive communication environment. A group of people who are comfortable working with each other and have developed a healthy level of disclosure trust is necessary.