By Joe Gammal

It has felt like a home-coming for Synecticsworld at the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) yearly conference in Atlanta, GA this week.  Back in 1960’s, the founder of CPSI, Sid Parnes, was a contemporary of George Prince and Bill Gordon, our own Synectics founders. Through the years, though the connections have drifted, our missions have maintained a kindred spirit. As I prepared for the day-long Synectics foundation training we were to give at the kick-off of the conference, I was reminded of a video I had recently discovered in the Synecticsworld archives.  It was a panel discussion held in 1994 called “The Pioneers of Creative Problem Solving” where George, Sid Parnes, and others were all brought together to share their wisdom and their stories. Those in the field will know of their pioneering work.  Being here this week is a reforging of that connection.

When my colleague, Kyle Hermans, and I arrived on Sunday, we met up the conference organizers  — Pim Vossen, Stephen Brand  and their team, who shared their excitement to have Synectics back in the fold and made us feel incredibly welcome.

Our sold out foundation training in Synectics Innovative TeamWorkshop™ had strong, inquisitive attendees spanning Fortune 500 companies, Business Owners, Professional Facilitators, and Educators.  Several had been trained previously in creative problem solving and were trainers and facilitators in creativity and innovation themselves, yet they were all so engaged allowing the depth of Synectics body of knowledge to really play out. The day was long and exhilarating, and yet, the highlight for me was yet to come.

Over dinner we were introduced to fellow presenter John Hunter, educator and founder of the World Peace Game, World Peace Game, whose insprirations have landed him on TED and the Huffington Post’s top 10 list of most influential ideas of 2011. John recounted the early inspiration of Synectics on his teaching methods, and what he called the Synectics book of magic spells.  After three hours finding ourselves in deep and sweeping conversations on curiosity, courage, fear, and love (more on this in my next blog), we realized that such chance encounters are what the conference is about. …. Our influence on him … and his influence on us and shared passions for the future… 

To John, thank you for reinforcing for us that Synectics has a seat at the table in education and a role to help fellow-collaborators unleash the creative and collaborative talents of our children to solve theproblems of our world.

To our CPSI hosts, thank you for fabulous job in bringing together and sparking the imaginations passionate, mission-driven people, and make-ing us feel at home. We look forward to the rest of the week with you all…and what our shared aspirations will bring.

Who are your kindred spirits — newly found, found anew or waiting to be discovered?

John Hunter – Educator & Founder, World Peace Game from CPSI on Vimeo.



  1. Kyle and Joe,

    You were a great addition to the CPSI program and community. Everyone who interacted with the two of you in your workshops, at meals, during breaks and in the hallways were sparked by your vision, inspiration and constant desire to explore, debate and develop new ideas. We are looking forward to keeping our conversations going and finding ways that Synecticsworld and the Creative Education Foundation can build on our historical connection and the synergy we saw and felt throughout the week at CPSI.

    Joe – See you back in Boston. Kyle, we’ll see you when you come back east or when we venture out west.

    Stephen Brand
    Creative Problem Solving Institute

  2. Thanks, Joe and Kyle, for a wonderful report – wish I could have been there too. So important that the people from the most powerful innovation approaches also collaborate and share insights – rather than see one another as competitors, as too frequently is the case in business.
    Keen to hear more about how people use Synectics thinking in peace-building and education – as we try to do in a modest way in South Africa – where both are still much needed. You are welcome to share the paper about our work at universities that I sent you yesterday with relevant people you met.
    I am also pleased that I have had a paper and a practical workshop introducing SynNovation as a conflict management tool accepted for a conference of the International Association for Conflict Management taking place near Cape Town in July. Will report back to Synectors

  3. It was an absolute pleasure meeting you, Joe, and participating in your one day workshop. Indulging in CPS and Synectics techniques was too good to be true for me, as I integrate both in my personal facilitation style. I’m anxious to explore the opportunities that might allow our paths to cross again in the future.

    Blessings to you, now and forevermore.

  4. Hello Joe (and Kyle)!
    Thank you both for bringing your body of knowledge and your commitment to creative practice to CPSI this year! As a participant in the one-day workshop I was blown away by the breadth and depth of learning. The Synectics program is impressive with its grounding in research and wisdom of practical application.
    Joe, you are an amazing and synergistic leader who opened our eyes and minds and hearts to both new and familiar ways of thinking, presented through a carefully crafted workshop filled with experiential learning and delicious, insightful debriefs!
    Not only did I learn new skills and refine my understanding of the theories underlying creative problem solving, I also had the chance to apply this learning. One of the best bonuses was the one-on-one Open Mindedness exercise. Though it only lasted 12 minutes I found innovative solutions to my challenge and clever ways to hurdle obstacles that were holding me (and my thinking) back.
    My sincere and humble gratitude to ALL of you for your willingness to share your expertise and your spirited commitment to teaching creative thinking tools in such an empowering way. I am truly inspired.

  5. Stephen, we look forward to our summer discussions and future collaborations. Karen, Tamara, thank you so much for your kind words. We hope to see you next year and sooner.

    Truida, thank you for your work in South Africa on Synectics/creative problem solving in “education and peace building”…and thank you for sharing. I will gladly forward to those that reach out.

    In the sprit of acknowledgement, I’d like to offer the complete list of names on that stage in that 1994 CEF event — “The Pioneers of Creative Problem Solving”. The panelist were Sid Parnes, George Prince, Ruth Knowler, Dr. Calvin Taylor, and Stan Gryskiewics, The moderator/interviewer was an energetic woman with a wonderful smile but I do not know her name. I believe there is at least one of you out there that might remember her. I believe she is still connected 🙂 Please help us out.

    Kind regards, Joe

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