Synectics – Working With Analogies to Be Creative

Synectics – Working With Analogies to Be Creative

Everybody uses synectics every day of their lives, most of the time without being aware of it. The term means a bringing different things together into a unified whole. Every time you say, “What if… ?” you are moving into the realm of synectic thought – challenging accepted ways of looking at things – of categorizing things – of thinking about things. Whenever you do that, you become creative!

Creative behaviour occurs in the process of becoming aware of problems, deficiencies, gaps in knowledge, missing elements, disharmonies, bringing together in new relationships available information; identifying the missing elements; searching for solutions, making guesses, or formulating hypotheses. E Paul Torrance

The one thing to do is to let go, to drop stereotypes, be a little crazy – a little, but being creative in this sense also requires the freedom and the confidence to challenge – emotional freedom, and to be conscious of one’s own thought processes – why one thing always makes you think of another – in this sense, you have to ‘de-associate’ your thoughts.

Finding new connections is something we all do – either we stumble onto them or we consciously find them in the everyday reality of our lives.

If we accept that, ‘The world is totally connected. Whatever explanation we invent at any moment is a partial connection, and its richness derives from the richness of such connections as we are able to make’. Jacob Bronowsku

Then we start to see links – sometimes those links might seem like daydreams – un-reality, but maintaining an openness of mind to connect is vital; it is being alive.

One of the ways of doing this is to use analogies – a similarity between like features of two things, on which a comparison may be based: the analogy between the heart and a pump.

Once you do this, you start to notice relationships between different items, and then you begin to transfer those relationships to other things – that’s when you start to be creative. Is that man walking his dog, or is the dog making sure his owner gets the exercise he needs. Why do we always think the first relationship is the normal one and the second just plain wrong – could we be wrong?

The dog barks to go out – we automatically assume it is only thinking of its own needs – how do we know that is true – and don’t people need reminders – a dog is placed in the same sort of relationship to its owner as the ‘To do’ function on a mobile phone – both make a noise to remind him to do something.

A pet dog fulfills other functions that a phone can’t – and vice versa – what are they? You see, once you enter into the realm of analogy, you think differently – that’s being creative – try it!

Continuing the analogy – the pet dog and the mobile phone – remember – the dog barks to remind his master that it is time for a walk, and the phone’s alarm tone reminds him to do something else.

Now then, let’s develop the idea further to see what we come up with – to see how far our creative thinking takes us.

We can begin by making comparisons: the dog barks and the phone tone sounds, the dog needs food and the phone needs charging. But then we start heading in opposite directions, which isn’t surprising: the dog is a faithful companion to his master, whereas the phone is inanimate – inanimate it may be, but it could be made to tell you stuff usually only told by people.

Phones could be used to check your blood pressure, your heart rate, or your body temperature – all because of the sense of touch – your touch.

New generation phones could monitor your physical well-being – and they could switch off when someone else picks up our phone and tries to use it without your permission.

Remember, these ideas were sparked off by thinking about the relationship between a dog and its owner and then the one between a mobile phone and the same guy.

Using these analogies, you came up with something new – perhaps it isn’t new to the phone companies, who probably have a team on the idea right now, but it’s new to you – that’s the point – it’s something we created – evidenced of your creativity, just from one way of thinking about two common objects – in a different way.