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Analysis Vs. Synthesis

Everybody’s an expert analyzer. We slice, we dice, we evaluate and judge everything and everyone around us. “That’s good, that’s bad, you should’ve done it this way”, yada, yada, yada. Analysis is easy, but how many of us are synthesizers and/or integrators, CREATORS?

The problem is that we’re taught to analyze and critique from day one. We start with our parents and we are continually reinforced over time by our education system until we’re rigid adults who know how “things should be”. Over and over, we’re presented with something that already IS (like a circuit drawing, a business case, an a-posteriori historic event) , and we are taught how to criticize it and how to vocalize that “it should have been done this way”.

That’s too bad, because we are all born with the innate ability to be synthesizers, integrators, or in summary, CREATORS. We were born of creation, and thus we are creators. Sadly, we lose touch of that simple fact of life because of our inculcated obsessive infatuation with academic intelligence and the ego-driven desire to know more than “others”. Our western societies reward and glorify left brain “experts” and they shun, or even ridicule, wild-ass innovators and creators (at least until aftet they’ve died). Creators and innovators are often ostracized by the herd because they shatter the status quo and disorient us from the comfort of our lazy Barca-loungers.

The figure below shows the difference between analysis and synthesis (Cx = component x). In the analysis scenario, we are given something that exists and then we are asked to evaluate it, to determine what’s good/bad about it, and to develop ideas on how to improve upon it. In school, we are taught all kinds of discipline-specific techniques and methods for decomposing and breaking things down into parts so that we can improve upon the existing design. But analyzing the parts separated from the whole doesn’t get us anywhere because the whole includes and transcends the individual parts. By breaking the system apart we obliterate the essence of the system, which is the  magic that exists in the interactions between its parts. Blech! Meh! Hawk-tooey!

analyze-synthesize

The synthesis scenario is downright scary. We are given a novel problem, a bounded set of parts (if we’re lucky), and told to “come up with a solution” by the boss. Dooh! Uh, I don’t know how to do that cuz I wasn’t taught that in school. I think I’ll bury my head in the sand and hope that someone else will solve the problem.

Synthesis transcends and includes analysis. You can’t be a good synthesizer without being a good analyzer. You synthesize an initial solution out of intellectual “parts” known to YOU and then you analyze  the result. If you aren’t familiar with the problem domain, then you have no “parts” in your repository and you can’t come up with any initial solution candidates. End of story. If you do have experience and knowledge in the problem domain, then you can synthesize an initial solution. You can then iterate upon it, replace bad parts with better parts, and converge on a “good enough” solution without falling into an endless analysis-paralysis loop. During the process of synthesis, you dynamically rearrange structures, envision system behavior, and iterate again until it “intuitively feels right”. All this activity occurs naturally, chaotically, at the speed of thought, and to the chagrin of the masses of Harvard trained MBAs,  in no premeditated or preplanned manner.

Ultimately, in order to share your creative results with others, you must expose your baby for “analysis”. Now THAT, is the hard part. For most people, it’s so hard to expose their creations to ridicule and humiliation that they keep their creations to themselves for fear of annihilation by the herd of analyzers standing on the sideline ready to attack and criticize. It sux to be a synthesizer, and that’s why the vast majority of people, even though every one of them is innately capable of synthesizing, fail to live fulfilling lives. Bummer!

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