“Analytical” vs. “Synthetic” thinking

Here, Dr. Ackoff:

  • distinguishes between gaining knowledge vs. understanding
  • compares and contrasts 3 steps of “synthetic thinking” with “analytical thinking” (analysis)
  • states that an “essential property of a system is that it cannot be divided into independent parts”

A key takeaway is that a system is not (equal to) the sum of its parts, but a product of the interactions of the parts.



Analytical Thinking 



Synthetic Thinking


1 What are the parts of this? What is this a part of?
2 What is the behavior of each part separately? What is the behavior of the whole?
3 Agrregate understanding of the parts into understanding of the whole Disaggregate whole by understanding part/whole function

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *