Synthesis Is More Important Than Analysis

by Jay Deragon on 02/08/2013

dataThe information Age brought out more data in ten years than ever before in the history of mankind. So management, in its infinite wisdom, said “Lets break the information down into related parts and analyze it”. That was the first mistake.

The theory behind analyzing the parts seems to be common with 21st Century management practices. The problem is that just analyzing parts could send you down the milkyway to no where. Improvement comes from understanding synthesis of the parts through analysis of cause and effect.

Organizational improvement is a philosophy based on the principles of continuous improvement. The continuous improvement philosophy, any philosophy, emphasizes synthesis first and analysis second but only in context to synthesis. Because of a lack of understanding the pilosophy of continuous improvement became a program rather than a management philsophy in many organizations. Then everyone went running off into the milkyway with no real understanding of why or where they were going. 

The First Mistake Is Only Analyzing The Parts

To improve or create anything of value there are two approaches and one is not effective without the other.

Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle, though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.

Synthesis (from the ancient Greek) is used in many fields, usually to mean a process which combines two or more pre-existing elements and results in something new.

Analysis is sometimes very necessary. But, in terms of business, it’s an overused practice to justify the wrong things. It is also used to substantiate an uneccessary action. The justififcation of the wrong things and the wrong actions are influenced more by politics and power than by truly understanding cause and effect.

Analysis without understanding synthesis is like saying the dynamics of all this social stuff is nothing more than marketing tactics.  A limited analysis would easily justify that position. However, analyzing it to understand the systemic implications of all the related dynamics (sythesis) reveals  much larger implications and meaning beyond marketing.

So if the first mistake is only analyzing the parts what is the second mistake? The second mistake is making decisions from the first mistake and expecting something new to happen.

So in the context of business, no wait a minute, in the context of life what is more important, analysis or synthesis? Analyze your answer carefully.

{ 2 comments }

Myreene Tobin February 9, 2013 at 8:38 am

This article contains profound wisdom! When data analysis consisted of the butterfly effect i.e. lighting on data items as surrogates for the whole, this methodology might have been more effective. However, now that we are swimming in data, we need to be able to synthesize what that information is telling us and how it applies. This is making true meaning of the data and learning from it. Thank you for this opportunity to think about it in this way!

Priyadarshi Ravi February 9, 2013 at 5:23 am

Cause and effect relationship is correlated so it cannot be used in isolation, management practices based on this relationship use the duo in correlation to analyse the concerned tasks as well as problems and projects in finding solutions for improvements.The different government departments use for process improvement.And synthesis.

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