The Effective Executive – Are You an Analytical or Synthetic Thinker?

If you haven’t already watched the video of this series, I would urge you to do so. It’s an overview video. You’ll see it as the trailer in my YouTube channel. The video covers being efficient versus being effective. And I think that’s a good place to start. 

There are two ways of thinking and one is analytical and the other is synthetic.

An analytical thinker is pretty natural to humans, to managers, to people in general. And it really entails just breaking things down into pieces. If you look across organizations, you see an organization being broken down into departments, units, and teams.

When we look at an organization, we have a department and operations and sales and finance and however your organization is broken apart. And so the this is very natural for humans to do.

 And there are three components to analytical thinking. One is that you take it apart, then you understand the parts and then you explain the behavior of the whole through the parts. And this kind of goes along with the thinking of why we look at  the individual in organizations as good or bad as far as an employee performance goes. And this isn’t true, I mean, in essence, the individual is part of a broader system, the organization, for starters, and then you go from individual to team, maybe to department to the organization.And the whole thinking from an organizational design standpoint is that this part’s optimization is the way to improve things.

Again, most executives think in this way, we all do, but we don’t take into account the second component of thinking, which is synthetic.  And so if we’re an individual, yes, we’re part of a team. We’re part of a department. We’re part of a larger organization. And understanding that the purpose of that larger organization is where you want to start. There are three components there as well. One I just mentioned, which is to understand the system that you are a part of. So if you’re an individual, you’re part of a broader system of a team, your production system of a department, a broader system of the organization.

And getting to at least that organizational level, understanding its purpose becomes a very important to synthetic thinking. The second thing is you understand the function of the system. What is it there for? And this is one of the reasons, I believe, organizations struggle to come up with a purpose or an aim for their organization is because they haven’t used their synthetic brains. They’re still viewing things at a department level or a team level or unit level or even an individual level.

And so with the understanding that we have about what the organizational purpose is, that larger containing system can be disaggregated.

And this then starts from a purpose standpoint. And thus the purpose of the system is such a key component to an organization and most organizations don’t even know why. A matter of fact, most of the time people write a mission, vision, values and key measurements, but they’re not even looking at things from a synthetic standpoint. And this is problematic with organizations trying to write a purpose because they’ve only got half the thinking – the analytical part – but not the synthetic portion. And you really need that synthetic thinking in order to understand the purpose of your organization.

A purpose for your organization – sometimes I refer to it as an aim – can’t be built through these analytical lens, and it really starts with understanding that the system. or or in this case,

The broader system that in which you work in is greater than the sum of its parts. And in a matter of fact, it’s the interaction of those parts that make it perform exponentially greater than just the sum of the parts. And so this is a huge difference in thinking.

Synthetic thinking is foundational to everything else. So to be an effective executive requires synthetic thinking, in my view.

How do I approach this? Well, this is a lot of the training, the executive education program that I have is that you’re going to be constructing a system map so that you can look through a customer lens and you can look through a thinking lens and understand the whole much better by taking through you through a series of steps to construct it. And from this, you’re going to uncover new insights into your organization that you probably hadn’t seen before. And this will then help inform building the purpose of your organization and also helping you develop your synthetic thinking.

Want to begin? Go to The Effective Executive Starter Kit – this will provide you with 5 videos to give you a better idea about the executive education program.

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