Synectics and its origins
Forty years ago, two people in a
design invention team, George Prince & Bill Gordon, became curious about why
it was on some days they had productive ideas sessions and on others the
group argued a lot and went round in circles. They began to video tape
the meetings and review the behaviour of the group. They noticed
recurring behaviours, some very useful and constructive, others very
was made to try and change how they organised and behaved in meetings, doing
more of the constructive things and finding new ways of managing the
destructive behaviour. They were successful and became more effective
by their measures. The two guys also began to wonder if they could
make creativity and innovation more than just an 'accident'.
They set up a
new company called Synectics. The word was derived from the
Greek syn - the bringing together of diverse elements and ectos -
from outside. A company was formed that has also given birth to a
growing body of knowledge, because Synectics is also the name for the set of
tools and techniques. From continued observation of invention and
design sessions, Synectics have developed a set of tools and structures.
These model and allow people to raise the probability of successfully using
the processes of having ideas, being creative, making choices when looking
for new ways of working, and developing new solutions from the kind of
woolly stuff you get when people are speculating about possible futures.
and processes are used in many major international firms across the globe.
tools were in the capable hands of the consultants in both Synectics Inc,
based in Cambridge, MA and Synectics Europe, based in London until 2003.
There were a
number of licensees around the globe but the main body of consultants
operated from these two offices.
In 2003 Altran,
a French Technology consulting firm, purchased both firms and with them
ownership of the Synectics name, although this name appears in Webster's
Dictionary and is also used as a company name by a number of unrelated
businesses around the world. This marriage did not work to plan and
around 2009/2010 a North American office reopened in Cambridge trading as
Synecticsworld with a licence to operate on that side of the Atlantic.
Altran retain the name in Europe but do not trade with it.
In common with
a number of ex Synectics consultants I integrate elements of my 12 years
experience with the firm into my work, acknowledging appropriate origins
when they are known.