Synthesizing SWOT Analysis

The analysis is derived from the Greek word “analysis”, which translates into ‘breaking up’ in English. It is older than the times of great philosophers like Aristotle and Plato. The analysis is the process of breaking down a big single entity into multiple fragments. It is a deduction where a bigger concept is broken down into smaller ones. This breaking down into smaller fragments is necessary for improved understanding.

The underlying assumption in the analysis is reductionism. Reductionism states that the reality around us can be reduced down to invisible parts. The embodiment of this principle is found in basic axioms of analytic geometry, which says “the whole is equal to the sum of its parts”. However, understanding a system cannot be developed by analysis alone. Hence, synthesis is required following analysis.

Synthesis refers to the process of combining the fragmented parts into an aggregated whole. It is an activity that is done at the end of the scientific or creative inquiry. This process leads to the creation of a coherent bigger entity, which is something new and fresh.

Analysis and synthesis, thus, form the two fundamental tasks to be done in design thinking. The design thinking process starts with reductionism, where the problem statement is broken down into smaller fragments. Each fragment is brainstormed over by the team of thinkers, and the different smaller solutions are then put together to form a coherent final solution.

Design Thinking – Analysis vs Synthesis
Analysis + Synthesis = Design Thinking
Analysis + Synthesis = Design Thinking

Analysis vs Synthesis

As scientific methods, analysis and synthesis always go hand in hand: In general, analysis is defined as the procedure by which you break down an intellectual or substantial whole into parts or components (loosen, untie, set apart). Synthesis is defined as the opposite procedure to combine separate elements or components in order to form a coherent whole (put together, combine, integrate). They complement one another. Every synthesis is built upon the results of a preceding analysis, and every analysis requires a subsequent synthesis in order to verify and correct its results. In this context, to regard one method as being inherently better than the other is meaningless.

From a cognitive perspective, system thinking integrates analysis and synthesis. System thinking bridges these two approaches by using both analysis and synthesis to create knowledge and understanding and integrating a holistic perspective. Analysis answers the ‘what’ and ‘how’ questions while synthesis answers the ‘why’ and ‘what for’ questions. Synthesis merges a dichotomy or in other words, the “for” and “against” perspectives, incorporate thesis and antithesis into a higher level of understanding where you synthesize and where both perspectives are incorporated. Analyses, on the contrary, are any objective understanding of a given or implied situation.

Analysis and synthesis are different “mental muscles” that serve different purposes. Each providing a different kind of understanding of the phenomenon under consideration. Where it gets a bit more complicated, is that whereas inner skills concerned with analysis help us break things down into their components; synthesis seems to involve not only putting the bits together but blending them in such a way that the emergent whole is somehow more than the sum of its parts.

The analysis is a pre-phase of synthesis. synthesis is the analysis’s “goal.”Human science, as a response to the use of positivistic methods for studying human phenomena, has embraced more holistic approaches, studying social phenomena through qualitative means to create meaning.

(a) Analysis – to understand something that already “exists” (building a model of an existing system).
(b) Synthesis – building something that does not exist (building a system according to the model)
(c) Analysis may not be able to answer the why questions about a system.
(d) Never attempt to improve a part of the system unless it improves the whole.

Analysis and synthesis always go hand in hand systematically and scientifically. There are, however, important situations in which one method can be regarded as more suitable than the other. They are both the critical thinking methodology in framing questions and problem-solving. Only through mastering both, one can see the world in a systematic and optimal way.

From a cognitive perspective, system thinking integrates analysis and synthesis. 
Analysis vs Synthesis
Analysis vs Synthesis

Inclusion vs Exclusion

Many cultures have different approximations of the words “inclusion” and “exclusion,” with unique origins and exact meanings. For the purposes let’s take a closer look specifically at the English words “include” and “exclude.” Both words are based on the Latin root claudere, which means “to close or shut.” It represents a literal enclosure, but it also represents a mental model of separation. The most common image that comes to mind is a boundary created by a closed circle.

How Inclusion Shapes Design
in vs out
The four elements that contribute to a cycle of exclusion.
A shut-in-shut-out model of exclusion is centuries old and leads to a fixed way of thinking about inclusion.
With a shut-in-shut-out model of exclusion, inclusion becomes a struggle between those in and those out.

In vs Out

When used as adjectives, indoor means situated in, or designed to be used in, or carried on within the interior of a building, whereas outdoor means situated in, designed to be used in, or carried on in the open air. Outdoor is also a verb with the meaning: to publicly display a child after it has been named.

Inside means, the interior or inner or lesser part, whereas outside means the part of something that faces out.
When used as prepositions, inside means within the interior of something, closest to the center or to a specific point of reference, whereas outside means on the outside of, not inside (something, such as a building).
Inside means within or towards the interior of something, especially a building, whereas outside means outdoors.
When used as adjectives, inside means originating from or arranged by someone inside an organization, whereas outside means of or pertaining to the outer surface, limit or boundary.

Within means in the inner part, spatially, whereas without means outside of, beyond.
When used as adverbs, within means in or into the interior, whereas without means outside, externally.
Without is also in conjunction with the meaning: unless, except (introducing a clause).

Keep in means confine someone indoors or in a particular place, restrain oneself from expressing a feeling, provide someone with a regular supply of a commodity. Keep out means cause someone or something to remain outside.

Liminal Boundaries

Liminal boundaries are like a biological membrane that separates the interior of all cells from the outside environment (the extracellular space) which protects the cell from its environment. Selective semi-permeability of liminal boundaries has four fundamental functions:

(1) To keep what should be inside in inside
(2) To keep what should be outside in outside
(3) To remove what needs to be taken out from the inside
(4) To take in what needs to be taken in from the outside

Thus, the four main functions of organic structures – pushing, pulling, keeping, and digesting – are fulfilled by the boundaries.

SWOT Analysis
Elements of SWOT Analysis

Features Advantages Benefits

Features by SWOT design:

(1) Strengths
(3) Weaknesses
(4) Opportunities
(2) Threats

Advantages of SWOT analysis:

(1S) Preserving Strengths (Build&Enhance)
(3W) Leaving Weaknesses (Resolve&Reduce)
(4O) Focusing Opportunities (Exploit&Expand)
(2T) Avoiding Threats (Beware&Thwart)

Benefits by SWOT synthesis:

(1S&2T) exploit strengths to overcome any potential threats
(1S&4O) use your strengths to exploit opportunities
(3W&4O) overcome weaknesses, and then take advantage of opportunities
(3W&2T) minimise any weaknesses to avoid possible threat

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