Imagine That! is a collection of thought pieces, stories, and articles by current and former staff members, clients and other associates that guides readers through 50 years of Synectics, its Body of Knowledge and its impact on clients, organizations, communities and individuals. It was edited by Connie Williams, General Managing Partner and Chief Knowledge Officer of Synecticsworld and Vincent Nolan, retired Chairman of Synectics Europe and author of many other books, including The Innovator’s Handbook (Sphere Books, 1989).


The below article is a taken from a chapter of Imagine That!


Vincent Nolan

Vincent Nolan, Former Chairman of Synectics Europe

By Vincent Nolan

Synectics is usually classified as a Creative Problem-Solving (CPS) Technique along with Brainstorming and Lateral Thinking. So what does Synectics, as a CPS technique, have in common with Brainstorming and the others? And how does it differ?

An independent answer to that question is provided by Dr. John Martin of the Open University in the UK. In his notes for the Creative Management module of their MBA Course in 1997, he wrote: “In practice, different schools of creativity training borrow from one another. The more elaborate forms of creative problem-solving, such as the Buffalo CPS method (basically brainstorming), incorporate quite a number of features found in Synectics. However there is still a discernible split between the ‘psychological’ approaches such as Synectics that emphasize metaphor, imagery, emotion, energy etc. and ‘procedural’ approaches that concentrate on private listings, round robins etc..  Of course practitioners can combine these techniques, but there is often a discernible bias towards one or other end of the spectrum” Brainstorming was the original Creative Problem-solving Technique, developed in the 1930s by Alex Osborn (the O of the advertising agency BBDO) and further developed by Professor Sidney Parnes of the Buffalo Institute. The Osborn-Parnes model is the most widely practised form of brainstorming, though the word has become a generic term for any attempt to generate new ideas in an environment of suspending judgement. It may include elements of other techniques, such as de Bono’s Lateral Thinking.

George Prince described Brainstorming as “the great breakthrough in creativity techniques; it demonstrated for the first time how much the fear of critical judgement inhibits the expression of ideas”. Even so, in brainstorming sessions (and in the Osborn-Parnes model) participants remain relatively inhibited and try to produce ‘good’ ideas, by ‘correctly’ understanding the problem and filtering out any ideas that might be considered absurd (‘good’ and ‘correct’ are clearly judgemental words) Synectics widens and deepens the process of suspending judgement in a variety of ways …

To read the remainder of the article download the full version here

Hard copies of the beautiful “magazine style” book can be ordered from Synecticsworld for $39.95 by contacting Mandy Fleming or order directly from Publisher’s Graphics, LLC.


  1. Thank you so much, wonderful synectors. You’ve been key partners in my personal hero’s journey…

  2. Hi,
    I would like to order the book” Imagine That” What is the procedure.

    Thank you.

  3. Garth Aldrich

    Hey Leo,

    Could you elaborate a bit on how the Buffalo Creative Problem Solving Process (CPS) with its 6 stages is basically Brainstorming?

  4. JaneEllenMelcher

    VINCENT, did you know there is a very nice easy-going song and video called, “Imagine That” by two of Nashville’s best known artists? The elder, Don Williams and the younger Keith Urban (Nicole Kidmann’s husband)? I bet you can get right to it, easily on YouTube. Keith smiles and just shines his light throughout the whole little production.

    Be well,


  5. Vincent,

    I was involved with Bill Gordon prior to formal Synectics Inc. We used to have fun solving all sorts of problems for major corporations. His house on Brattle Street was the center of that fabulous period. My inventions and founding of COMPONOFORM as my first company had much to do with that period of innovations in Cambridge, MA. Look us up on Google Images – COMPONOFORM and SOLAR*MAGIC..

    I look forward reading your book.


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