Synectics

These are a special form of group discussion, in which the aim is to generate creativity, rather than to collect existing thoughts and attitudes. Synectics are therefore most commonly used to generate new product ideas, or new ideas about provision of services. They were originally used in high-technology markets and carried out using highly qualified technical respondents. They have also been applied in consumer markets using 'ordinary' consumers to generate new product possibilities, with some degree of success. Although it is rare for non-technical respondents to achieve completely innovative idea breakthroughs, they can provide valuable insights into the way in which new product development might go, and suggest a general outline of what a new product might be like. Synectic groups, even with consumers, are more intensive and usually longer than group discussions, lasting for three to four hours. The group structure is different, in that group members are selected deliberately to reflect difference rather than similarity. In the purest form of this method group members are screened for 'high creativity'. They may also meet on more than one occasion, and so increase the generative capacity of the group.

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