Are You an Effective, Synthetic Executive?

I’ll share with you a secret from working with many global organizations – ninety nine percent of executives are analytical thinkers and one percent are synthetic thinkers.

And the reason I say this is, I believe it to be true, I don’t have any survey or scientific study on it. But just my observation over the years and even the one percent that are synthetic thinkers are usually in systems where they can’t operate with their brains being in a synthetic mode.

Efficiency is “doing things right” and being effective is “doing the right things.” And so when we look at the way organizations are designed and the way that we improve performance, we talk in terms of these individual types of silos that exist in organizations. So, for instance, we have a tech department, I.T. department, we’ve got training, we’ve got maybe Lean and Six Sigma. We got project management, we got finance and accounting. We got sales and we got operations. And there may be other types of departments that are in your individual organization, but executives are over one of those departments. And because they are, it makes it very difficult for them to look at the whole.

Siloed and departmental thinking is locked in by virtue of the way that organizations control things and the way that they motivate. And you have to toe the line for your department. You are stuck by virtue of the way the system has been made with this type of thinking – I have to do what’s best for my department. This is analytical thinking that we’ve broken these things down and solidified it to such a point with control and motivation, where people are stuck in that mindset or forced into that mindset because the system is rewarded in that way and controlled in that way. And so we look at these independent parts as opposed to the whole of how things operate.

Efficiency cannot change doing the wrong thing to doing the right thing, there is no approach from an efficiency standpoint taking you from an analytical standpoint that can get you to an effective or become an effective or synthetic type of thinking executive. So they are two different paths, but they rely on each other at the same time. We talk in terms of effective/synthetic type thinking we’re doing the right things and we know that in order to do the right things, that we have to understand how the whole performs – and that the whole in a system is greater than the sum of its parts.

Understanding the whole is greater than the sum of the parts you realize the interdependence of things becomes very important. It’s the interdependence of those parts that improve the whole. And you can’t look at the whole until you make an effort to get out of our independent department that you’re stuck in.

The way that this is described by many folks is that we have a future, future focused aim. And to me, when we’re talking in terms of aim, we’re talking about the greater good. We’re talking about the customer, we’re talking about innovation, and we’re also talking about something very social. So it’s something that we look at how these interactions between the parts are held together.

And if you look at that, if we look at greater good, we’re looking at something greater than ourselves or the system in which we work and or the department that we work in, we’re looking at that. And that’s kind of the first level, from my standpoint, in getting you to think outside of just that department and looking at the whole organization. Later, you can look into the organization, how it fits into the larger industry, into the larger systems outside of the organization.

But step one is really looking at your organization as a whole, so so that it needs to provide some greater good that has to have some focus on the customer and it has to have some focus on innovation in order to get you to the next level. In other words, everything is progressing. And we’ve seen a lot of disruption in media. We’ve seen disruption in so many different industries that you have to be proactive in innovating in your industry in order to just stay afloat. And then there’s a social aspect, which is then the interaction of the parts. How do we socially interact with each other in an organization?

Now I get a lot of my operational definitions for analytical versus synthetic thinking from Dr. Russell Ackoff,  he talked in terms of understanding and getting know-how from an analysis on how a system works, and that is knowledge. Once we understand how a system works, that is getting knowledge and that can increase your efficiency, but that does not increase your effectiveness.

And so in order to increase effectiveness, it requires understanding. Understanding why a system does what it does and whether it ought to be doing it is wisdom. And what we’re after here is getting you to a point as an executive where you can be wise and utilize that wisdom. But understand everybody listening to this is going to be an efficient,analytical thinker. I’ve got to move you away from that by doing things that will help you become an effective, synthetic type of an executive.

If a system is doing the wrong thing. Wisdom is required to correct it. Nothing else is going to correct it. Remember, I can’t get there from efficient, analytical minset. You have to become effective, synthetic in your thinking as an executive to be effective in your performance and synthetic in your thinking in order to become an Effective Executive. So wisdom comes from synthetic, not analytical thinking and analysis will not right, the wrong thing. I know I’ve overemphasized this, but some executives believe that if I just keep doing things right, as opposed to doing the right things that they can get there with that type of thinking. We’re talking about two different thoughts in doing that.

So how might we approach this? Well, this is the 95 Method Executive Education Program, in essence, I give you a method and help you become a synthetic thinker. And I’ve mentioned in previous episodes, and if I haven’t, I will mention it now that customers are synthetic thinkers because they don’t care about your departments. All they care about is getting what they need when they come to your organization. And in order to get that type of knowledge and what you need in order to gain wisdom is the ability to look through this Customer Lens and then also the Thinking Lens that you’re looking through. Because if you’re looking through an analytical way as opposed to synthetic way, you’re missing out on a lot of things that could help improve your organization.

So we’re, in essence, taking you through step by step and executive education program, through looking through that customer lens and through the thinking lens. And I also utilize neuroscience also to help you understand why you think the way that you do and how you can unpack this in your brain a little bit because you’ll understand your tendencies as that you are an analytical thinker and that synthetic thinking is something very different. And being able to construct what I call a system map from that customer lens and from that thinking lens will give you a view, something to converse about that’s much different than the analytical types of conversations that you have. And organizations having broader synthetic types of conversation organizations changes a lot of the dynamics of things that are happening in the way that you view things. And so this is the first step.

Now I have a free download that’s available that’s at and that’s basically five videos and take you through some of the thinking associated with synthetic thinking and effective performance.




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