I, The Absolute

Synthesis as a larger objective

Posted by itheabsolute on June 23, 2005

Life does not understand separation of disciplines. Problems are problems. They are not marketing problems or strategy problems or economic problems or emotional problems. Given this, it appears that there can be no one way of explaining a problem. As our strategy professor was mentioning in the class today, who knows if Agassi’s being bald was, perhaps, one reason why he performs well. There is no way one can explain his performance using any language of sport or for that matter any discipline. Given this, the question that “is knowledge attainable” arises. This was the question, which plagued Philosophers for long centuries. While other scientists have amassed mounds and mounds of knowledge, Philosophers are still debating if knowledge is possible. But when you question whether knowledge itself is possible, then no progress could be made.

An easy way was to just divide what was happening in nature into many disciplines so that observation, explanation and understanding becomes easy. Today, this phase of sub-dividing disciplines into specialized areas has gone to the extent that people choose such narrow topics to complete research that sometimes it looks quite funny. The division of knowledge, or what is knowable, has been so extreme that it is well nigh impossible to integrate all these sub-divisions to make sense out of a situation. A problem in a firm is explained by a marketing guy in marketing terms or if he wants to put blame on other divisions, then in operations terms or even strategic terms. Even to analyze the issue, only one framework is used, because no one knows the entire picture as no one has ever studied all subjects in full, because studying all subjects is humanly impossible. Since all that is required to be known is not known at any point of time, a problem is only solved at a very sub-optimal level. Solving a problem at sub-optimal level only further complicates the problem. Consequently, it appears that specialization, while it has helped improve efficiency, has caused greater misery, which is not easily observable.

These days, my larger problem has to do with synthesis and not analysis. How do I integrate all the knowledge that I have gained in the last sixty days at one point to look at a problem and explain it. When I am in a strategy class, all that occurs to me is a Porter model or a Prahalad’s Core competence; but when I move to marketing class, all that occurs to me is 4P or 5C model or at best BCG matrix. Regression analysis is about statistics and not a tool that I can use in marketing or strategy, to better understand problems or even define them. I realize that the best effort I can make in the coming terms should circle about synthesizing all that I have learnt into one framework, which can define/explain a problem in a holistic manner and hence can provide a sustainable solution. Easier said than done.

5 Responses to “Synthesis as a larger objective”

  1. Hi there

    No it was absolutely thought provoking stuff and nothing derogatory at all! It is the free exchange of intellectual ideas that improves our own understanding. I look fwd to hearing and reading more stuff like this from you in the future.


  2. hi whoozline

    i think i overstepped and trespassed on the area where i was quite ignorant. apologies in case it appeared that i was talking about doctoral pursuits in a derogatory manner.

    it is nice to know that at Ph D level, the learning draws from many a subject. trust u have been enjoying this synthesising experience.

  3. Hi anon1

    good point


  4. Hi there!

    A thought provoking post indeed. I agree with the ‘concept of synthesis’ which is the main idea behind the post, it is indeed essential to make sense of ‘learnings’ in the context of the entire business (subjects).

    I wanted to clarify on one comment that you make about people specializing in a very narrow area and performing research. While what you say is quite true in some instances, I wanted to emphasize that this statement is not applicable in general. My own experience in Graduate school suggests that as you move up or perform more cutting edge research you actually ‘synthesize’ learning from a vast majority of fields. A number of projects currently being funded by Federal Govt or Corporations are actually on ‘Collobarative efforts’ between different disciplines. Ex. Biotechnology, Nano-technology to name a few. All these disciplines in fact require you to be grounded in the basics of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Engineering and apply them in a fusion to develop new products/processes etc.

    Just my 3 cents, here. I enjoy your thought-provoking posts, great stuff.

  5. Anon1 said

    Very nice thought. Agree with you.

    However, a point of assimilation, perhaps occurs when the instinctive feeling or the GUT feeling steps in. While it is not neccessarily objective at all times and may have an influence of the past experience(s), it tends to assimilate the knowledge of different disciplines into the decision process.

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