George M. Prince, Synectics, Practice of Creativity, innovative, collaboration

George M. Prince, Founder of Synectics

By George M. Prince


Creativity practitioners have long been aware that one of the reasons for the effectiveness of their techniques is that they create a climate’ (or ‘culture’ or ‘field’) which is significantly different from that of normal working life. The term field was derived by Kurt Lewin and states that behavior is determined by the totality of influences on an individual in a given situation (Lewin, 1935). I prefer ‘field’ to ‘climate’ and have used it throughout this paper. The climate is a given and there is nothing we can do to change it; we have to adapt to it. ‘Field,’ as in electro-magnetic field or interpersonal field (as psychologists now refer to it) enlarges the concept to include the changeable factor of emotions. The ‘field’ is something we can manage, if we have the necessary skills and knowledge.

Alex Osborn (the inventor of brainstorming) demonstrated in the 1930s that by applying the ‘suspend judgment’ principle, many ideas were generated, because people had been given permission to express ideas they would normally censor. From the 1960s onwards, Synectics extended that protection to the convergent phase of idea development, by introducing a developmental judgment technique (Itemized Response) and other communication and behavioral ground rules. These approaches demonstrate efforts at developing positive field.

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