The Need For Synthesis

We’ve all heard of Business Analysis and roles called “Analysts”. However, as many of the people who have influenced me have said – Analysis is great, but what you need to think beyond is the ability to synthesize.

@Marcio_saito pointed me to his great post on synthesis and I just had to share it with you. In it he says:

 To innovate, create new business, develop new products, you need to detected patterns, look forward and synthesize the future. To increase the organizational capacity to innovate, you need to leverage good synthesis – or “analysis of the future” (I love the research firm IDC tagline).

So here are some thoughts I offer:

  1. If you have no time nor interest in directly participating in the analysis, ignore the numbers and focus on the rationale. In my corporate career, I’ve seen too many decisions being driven by bogus cited statistics off a PowerPoint presentation.
  2. Most of us have strong innate synthesizing skills. If you want to leverage that human characteristic, expose data at the point where it is needed, trust and empower people whenever possible. Afraid people will be confused or misled by incomplete or noisy data? Look at how good regular people are filtering the extreme product reviews at Look at the vision test above.
  3. Hire people with good analytical skills to look at the aggregation of data. Be honest and transparent when using the results of the analysis. If your intention is to start the spreadsheet from the bottom line, skip all the analysis crap. Real-time KPI dashboards are good because they inhibit “what-if” spreadsheet manipulations.
  4. If all you are going to give people is decomposed tasks and personal MBO goals, they don’t need “strong analytical skills”. Stop asking for what you don’t need or, better, start offering holistic views of problems, data and the freedom to act outside the corporate boxes they are in.
  5. If you are a successful business leader, it is probably because of you have above-average synthesizing skills. Remove the line about strong analytical skills from your resume.

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