Table of Contents:


  • 1 A firm is having problems in recruiting new managers to join its ranks. Discuss how the use of free association might lead to ideas on how to get to grips with this problem.
  • 2 What is synectics? Illustrate its application to a problem of your choice.
  • 3 When might storytelling be most appropriately used in creative problem solving?
  • 4 Illustrate the different forms of analogy that might be used in a synectics session (i.e. personal, direct, symbolic and fantasy analogy).
  • 5 What is the purpose of an excursion? Suggest ‘excursions’ and an example of the following italicised keywords, in the excursions in each of the cases below:
    • a) How to ignite enthusiasm for a project
    • b) How to liquidate assets to solve a financial problem
    • c) How to purify the air in departmental meetings
  • 6 Work thr ough a synectics session to gain insights into each of the following problems:
    • a) How to improve communications between management and workers
    • b) How to prevent industrial espionage
    • c) How to minimise the number of industrial accidents
    • d) How to do more management work with fewer resources


Gordon, W.J. (1961) Synectics, New York: Harper & Row.

Hicks, M.J. (1991) Problem Solving in Business and Management, London: Chapman & Hall.

Prince, G. (1970) The Practice of Creativity: A Manualfor Dynamic Group Problem Solving, New York: Collier Books.

Taylor, J.W. (1961) How to Create Ideas, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Further reading

Faulkner, D. (2011) ‘Angels, tooth fairies and ghosts: thinking creatively in an early years classroom’, in Faulkner, Dorothy and Coates, Elizabeth (eds), Exploring Children's Creative Nan atives, Abingdon: Routledge, 39-62.

Gassmann, O. and Zeschky, M. (2008) ‘Opening up the solution space: the role of analogical thinking for breakthrough product innovation’, Creativity and Innovation Management, 17(2), 97-106.

Nolan, V. (2003) ‘Whatever happened to synectics?’, Creativity and Innovation Management, 12(1), 24-27.

Proctor, T. (1989) ‘The use of metaphors to aid the process of creative problem solving’, Personnel Review, 18(4), 33-42.

Proctor, T. (2020) ‘Creative problem solving techniques, paradigm shift and team performance’, Team Performance, 26(7/8), 451-466.

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