Leadership creativity exercise
Brief description of creativity technique
Synectics is a heuristic method of conceptual design and creative problem solving through the use of analogies and metaphors. It uses the almost unlimited capacity of the human mind to search for solutions by, among other things, comparing contrasting elements of a system and by supporting the thought process by creating an environment and carefully selecting inventors, the so-called “Synectors”. Synectics was first described by William J.J. Gordon as a knowledge acquisition technique for creative people, inspired by Joy Guilford’s metaphorical thinking.
The idea behind this technique is to search for systems similar to the defined problem by direct analogy. The analogy represents the potential for exploitation and unrestricted access to information is a key element in the effective use of direct analogy.
In the simplest terms, the process of solving a problem using synectics can be presented in the following four phases:
- dealing with the problem intensively,
- moving away from the problem,
- link building,
- creating solutions.
Exercise for skills at the level of:
Learning objectives of the exercise
- developing skills expected in the labour market,
- increasing the ability to cooperate in a group with the contribution of one’s own creativity,
- openness to benefit from the knowledge and experience of others.
The use of Synectics allows students to develop the following skills, among others:
- to think outside the box,
- openness to cooperation between people from different fields, and professions,
- building one’s own position and evaluating it in the context of empowerment,
- developing concepts for innovative solutions,
- cooperation in the group,
- benefit from the knowledge and experience of an expert and leader,
- focusing on tasks,
- creative thinking,
- introducing a group climate,
- stimulate divergent thinking skills,
- flexibility and originality.
Developing these skills in students will help them understand the importance of these skills as a resource for enhancing their career potential. Students and graduates will be more attractive for employers in a labour market where companies focused on innovation and creativity are growing.
The course is not difficult as it can be followed by any group according to its expectations.
Skills developed/enhanced by the exercise
In person: 3 hours
Online: 3 hours
How many people are needed?
Minimum 5 persons
In-person: whiteboard/flipchart/paper and markers, table, chairs.
1. Problem Template
2. Template – Simple Analogies,
3. Template – Fantasy Analogies,
4. Template – Personal analogies,
5. Template – Symbolic Analogies,
6. Template – a template of a proposal to solve a problem,
Online: TEAMS platform and whiteboard function
Instructions for conducting the exercise
The workshop is led by a trainer. In addition, an expert should participate in the workshop. The role of the expert can be played by the trainer or one of the group members.
They include the following steps:
Step 1: Pose the problem,
Step 2. Redefine the problem and its analysis,
- stating the obvious, (talking about the problem)
Step 3: Formulate the actual problem,
Step 4: Use analogy to find a solution
- Simple analogies,
- Fantastic analogies,
- Personal analogies,
- Symbolic analogies.
Step 5: Collect and analyse ideas that point to a practical solution to the problem,
Step: 6 Select a solution based on a new point of view. During the workshop, do not criticise or evaluate the proposals of others, proposals should be slogans, do not interrupt speakers.
In order to carry out the variants you need:
- a large table or tables arranged in such a way that the participants form a circle and can see each other and pass the cards freely,
- chairs arranged around a table,
- A4 sheets, preferably white printer paper – no less than three sheets for each participant,
- pens, preferably blue or black, for each participant (ideally the pens should be the same to ensure greater anonymity),
- coloured markers or crayons – for each participant, markers.
Case study from desk research
Case study for analysis. The lecturer prepares a case study appropriate and adequate to the field of study and the group with which he/she conducts the workshop. It can be based on a real example known to the lecturer or on a simulation.
Case study – Healthcare facility
Customer service process problem.
Primary problem: poor customer-patient service, patient dissatisfaction. Identified sub-problems: poor registration system (on-site only), unqualified, incompetent, uninformed, undisciplined administrative staff, lack of service standards, too few medical staff (queues), lack of work organisation, chaos, poor signposting inside the unit, and lack of identification of individual staff, lack of strategy.
Solving the problem by Synthetics using Symbolic Analogue
In solving the problem, a group of students adopted the colour green and chose words for this colour i.e. grass, freshness, peace, nature, spring.