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The Time of The Synthesists Has Come

These are strange days. And nobody knows exactly, how long it will take, what the effects will be, and when we will get back to a stable period. Times like these show us the definition of “V.U.C.A” (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). No data exists to analyze the situation. No playbook exists to apply to the situation. What to do now? Give up? No way! There has to be a way…

Bad news: This kind of situation will be more frequent due to the continuing complexity of the world, unrest in society, climate change and many other reasons. So, we better be prepared.

Good news: There is an approach to coping with this kind of situation. However, due to short-sighted and very detailed focused analytics, it has been lost.

But, we can focus on the bigger picture.

We have to connect the dots. We have to prepare for and accept multiple outcomes. We have to allow for the discomfort of not knowing what to do. We have to overcome analysis, and embrace synthesis.

“We live and work in an analytical prison: Working hard within this prison produces nothing. We cannot remodel the prison; we must get out of it.” — Dr. W.Edwards Deming

Analysis is defined as: “the careful study of something to learn about its parts, what they do, and how they are related to each other.”

Analytics is good for digging into the depths of certain problems. Analytics is good when there is big data, when the ground is known and defined.

Analysis makes you micro-smart and macro-dumb.” — Stephen Haines

In the following cases, analytics does not work as well as synthesis:

  • No Data – When there is no data, there is no way to gauge the future and your success within it. Think of Blue Ocean strategies, Black swan events, Tipping points, or the like.
  • High Ambiguity – When there are high levels of ambiguity, we run into such examples as post-merger integration, complex negotiations, and product launch challenges.
  • Opposing Points of View – When there are opposing points of view, ripples are created in professional life. We know this very well from home, everyday family discussions. This can also show up in mediation processes, strategy reconciliation, and innovation management.

“A good judgment equally consists of seeing differences between things seeming equal, as similarities between things seeming different.” — Plato

More formally, synthesis is defined as: “to combine separate elements or components in order to form a coherent whole.”

AnalysisSynthesis
  • Studying the elements of an object or subject to understand how it works.
  • Putting elements together, to create a new whole.
  • Looking for differences between elements.
  • Looking for commonality between elements.
  • Based on the information you have within the scope.
  • Based on the information you need, setting the context.
  • Seeks to determine the scope to operate within.
  • Seeks to determine the context in which the object is functioning.

 

“Synthesis is the essence of managing; putting things together in the form of coherent strategies, unified organizations, and integrated systems. This is what makes managing so difficult — and so interesting. It’s not that managers don’t need analysis; it’s that they need it as an input to synthesis. Where to find synthesis in a world so decomposed by analysis?” — Henry Mintzberg

Every company is proud of the number of analysts and data scientists they have in place. That’s good, and you have to continue those capabilities. But it’s not sufficient to employ only these elements.

For the “bigger picture”, for “strategy formulation”, for “consensus building”, and especially for “future scenarios”, you need more synthesists and synthesis capabilities. This means being able to find solutions, when the problem is not clearly defined, finding agreement between opposing views, and creating narratives when there are no clues.

Sound familiar these days? Yes, indeed. That’s why we put it here. Curious? Let’s talk.

THE BETTER NORMAL SERIES
THE BETTER NORMAL #1: “THE BETTER NORMAL” WILL BE CREATED BY US
THE BETTER NORMAL #2: NO WAY OUT!
THE BETTER NORMAL #3: SYSTEMIC CHANGE OR NUDGE FOR THE BETTER NORMAL
THE BETTER NORMAL #4: A CRITICAL APPROACH TO DIGITAL
THE BETTER NORMAL #5: A CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE PERSPECTIVE
THE BETTER NORMAL #6: THE “REAL” RESILIENCE OF SUPPLY CHAINS
THE BETTER NORMAL #7: AIM FOR DIGITAL GREATNESS
THE BETTER NORMAL #8: THE BALANCED VISION
THE BETTER NORMAL #9: OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE
THE BETTER NORMAL #10: Don’t Carry “Covid-19 Impact” Too Far
THE BETTER NORMAL #11: Workplace of the Better Normal
THE BETTER NORMAL #12: The Post-Covid Era Requires Digital Transformation

 

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