Types Of Synthesis

- narratives (usually the most popular and involves putting material together in a coherent story, such as in novels)

- powerful metaphors, images and themes ( a popular one that involves concepts brought to life by invoking metaphors; metaphors can be represented verbally and graphically, such as when corporations create brands in words, graphics, jingles, etc)

- taxonomies (materials are ordered in terms of salient characteristics, such as classifications)

- complex concepts (newly stipulated concepts can tie together or blend a range of phenomenon, such as Charles Darwin's concept of natural selection)

- rules and aphorisms (much folk wisdom is captured and conveyed by short phrases that are designed to be memorable and widely applicable, such as 'think globally, act locally')

- embodiments without words (powerful messages can be conveyed in works of art, such as paintings, sculptures, song and/or dance, etc)

- theories (concepts can be formulated into theories, such as Darwin's Theory of Evolution combines the concepts of variation, competition, natural selection, and survival until reproduction)

- meta-theory (establishing an overall framework of knowledge: an example is how Karl Marx viewed social/economic/material factors as determinants, with ideas emerging as a superstructure)

NB Sometimes a combination, such as a narrative which includes aphorisms, concepts and taxonomies, may be used

Components of synthesis

- an objective (what is trying to be achieved)

- starting point (an idea, image, building on previous work, etc)

- selection of strategy, method and approach (narratives, taxonomies, complex concepts, rules, etc)

- drafts and feedback

Linking the kinds of synthesis with the various forms of intelligence, eg

- a linguistic mind would favour a story

- a logical mind would be interested in some kind of equation or theory

- a spatial mind would flavour a chart, drawing, diagram, etc

- bodily-kinaesthetic mind would favour some kind of balance between opposing forces, etc

Interdisciplinary synthesis poses additional concerns. There is no guarantee that combinations of disciplines will be appropriate or productively linked, especially with different terminology between the disciplines making communications hard. This type of synthesis is used to come up with 1 of 3 considerations:

i) a powerful new concept has been developed and needs to be tested in new fields, such as the idea of inexpensive disruptive technologies, such as the Internet, that will help newcomers while threatening to displace the more traditional players in an industry

ii) an important phenomenon emerges and needs to be contextualized, such as a new "wonder"drug that has toxic side effects that will impact on a small group of people

iii) a pressing problem emerges and the current disciplines cannot handle it, such as AIDS where the combined disciplines of virology, demographics, immunology, behavioural psychology and social network theory are needed

Synthesis is becoming increasingly important now that "data overload"prevails

"...the manager must consider the job to be done, the various workers on hand, their current assignments and skills, and how best to execute the current priority and move on to the next one. A good manager also looks back over what has been done in the past months and tries to anticipate how best to carry out future missions......begins to develop new visions, communicates them to associates, and contemplates how to realize these innovations......invades the realm of strategic leadership and creativity within the business profession......synthesizing the current state of knowledge, incorporating new findings, and delineating new dilemmas is part and parcel of the work of any professional..."

Howard Gardner, 2006a

Need to be aware of the changing technology and its impact on the synthesizing mind. For example, before the invention of the printing press, when books were scarce, it was vital for individuals to have good verbal memories; once books became readily available, memory was less important; more recently, the Internet has extended this. On the other hand, this has heightened the significance of the synthesizing mind which needs to handle huge bodies of information in print and electronic forms. Furthermore, globalization has increased interdependence and the need for better personal relationships and understanding of different communities


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