The Synectics methodology originated in the 1950's and has evolved substantially since. The founders were George M. Prince and William J. J. Gordon. At the core of this methodology is the assumption that the creative process can be described and that individual creativity and group creativity are comparable.
The basic principle of Synectics was outlined by Gordon as 'Trust things that are alien, and alienate things that are trusted'. This is a strong reminder of the need for creative thinking, the need to focus on the emotional and irrational instead of the rational. In their research they listened to and observed hundreds of hours of audio and video files of meetings and discussions. They observed that many of the creative solutions that groups agreed on and decided to implement, were driven by the same sort of 'psychic processes'. This was regardless of the field, the sciences or the arts.
Another important focus of Synectics is action, not merely ideas. Individuals are encouraged to discuss ways of implementation after they have all decided on an idea that they believe is appropriate. The application of this methodology can be in a variety of situations, from problem solving to idea generation. It can work irrespective of the kind of work your organization is involved in.
Alienation is the term used for the process whereby members of the group are asked to create analogies of the topic or problem at hand in order that they can view it from a different perspective. This helps groups to get out of ruts they might have gotten into, or blocks they feel they cannot overcome. The analogies can be direct, personal or symbolic in nature. These are often referred to as the levels of alienation. The group begins with a direct analogy to the problem.
Here the individuals can draw from any field- nature, music, commerce, and form a direct analogy of the problem and discuss the same. They then move on to personal analogies where they insert themselves into the problem and become part of it. Subsequently, one aspect of the personal analogy is chosen to form the symbolic analogy which is further discussed to arrive at a solution.
Central to the success of the Synectics approach is an effective group leader who knows is or her team well and can draw on their knowledge and skill in creating analogies and enhancing participation in order to ensure that the team moves forward smoothly and effectively.